Actions Speak Louder Than Words: A Tenant’s Rental History

FACT: Renting is a form of temporary ownership. As a landlord, you are giving someone the key to your property and you want to make sure they are qualified for the job. When clearing an applicant for a lease, good credit makes a strong case for their candidacy, but you also want to take the time to peer into their tenant-worthiness. 

Rental history and references will serve as solid indicators of a tenant’s professionalism and reliability and should not be overlooked. How a candidate dealt with rentals and landlords in the past is likely how they will deal with it now. Remember, a bad renter will cost you. In the long run, you will be glad you opened your front door to someone you’ve researched thoroughly.

Key Components of a Good Rental History

Verifiable Tenancy.
Request applicants to provide former addresses, landlord’s or property manager’s contact information, lease term, and the rent amount.

Solid References.
The rental application must include a signed Release of Rental History consent, which gives you permission to inquire about the applicant’s rental records. Some landlords and management companies might require written proof that the applicant has agreed to their private information being shared.

Timely Payments.
You want a renter with responsible financial habits. A repeated record of late and missed rental payments is a mark of a high-risk tenant 

Lease Compliance.
Abandoning a lease early might be a red flag in the renting process. Ask your candidate to explain gaps in their rental history and any discrepancies. 

Checking References

When speaking to another landlord or property manager, keep in mind that you will be chatting with another investor and that it is a great opportunity to screen a candidate’s rental history details, along with attitudes and temperament. Make a checklist of objective questions to ask them:

What is the property address and your applicant’s tenancy dates?
If they can’t answer properly they could be a fake reference. 

Did the tenant routinely paid rent on time and in full?
If not, ask if the tenant provided a legitimate reason and if they eventually accounted for the late or missed payments.

Was the property well-maintained by the tenant?
Ask if there were deductions from the security deposit.

Did they complete the lease agreement and provided notice?
This accounts for their reliability and consideration for the landlord.

Was the tenant a good neighbor?
You want to find out if they observed the rules of property and if there was a history of complaints. You don’t want to deal with a quarrelsome tenant.

Would you rent to this person again?
Beware of unfair negative referrals led by personal biases, since it is illegal under the Fair Housing Act for landlords to discriminate against race/color, national origin, religion, disability, sex, and familial status.

RenterEvaluation’s tenant screening reports will help you get an even better sense of your applicant. Bad credit overlaps into rental history if someone has been sued for past-due rent or property damage. Our company provides you with eviction and criminal checks along with a credit report, where you can look for information that might contradict the rental application.

Putting It All On The Table.

Let’s be realistic. No rental applicant is perfect and everyone is subject to experiencing credit difficulties at one point or encountering a greedy, unprofessional landlord. If you like your prospective renter, allow them to make a case for their tenancy. If they are eager to reassure you, consider options like involving a co-signer, negotiating a larger security deposit or advance rent money.

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