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How to check a renter's references


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I bought an investment property and plan on renting it out. How do I make sure that I get a good tenant?


Ask the applicant (prospective renter) for a previous landlord reference. Your applicant should give you written permission to check his references - this should be part of your rental application.

You will fax this authorization to the previous landlords or property managers, together with these questions:
  • What were the move in/ move out dates?
  • What was the monthly rent?
  • Was the tenant evicted?
  • Was the tenant ever late with paying rent?
  • How much of their deposit did the tenant receive back?

Sometimes you will not deal with a property manager, but a fellow investor who will share this information without a written authorization. In these cases you should ask if you can fax over your questions for them to answer. If you choose to get the references verbally over the phone you may also wish to confirm that you are speaking with an investor. One way is to ask how the market is doing, ask if they own other rentals, complain about the pain of dealing with tenants, ask if they ever had to evcit, etc. In these cases you should also check the county web site to confirm that the ownership of the home matches the name of the person you spoke with and call 411 to confirm the phone number.

A simple precaution is to take a look at the applicant's driver's license when you are meet. Spend a few seconds really looking closely at it.

  • Look at the picture on the license and check that it matches the person standing in front of you.
  • Does the address on it match what is on the application? Does the date of issuance agree with the date they claim to have been living at the address?
  • Is the name the same on the license as on the application?
  • What is their middle name/ initial and date of birth and compare that to what is on the credit report. Some people use their parent's social security number in applications.

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2014-09-03, 19:03:43
anonymous from United States  
Thanks, very useful!



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