9 Tips for Verifying References of Potential Tenants

An important part of any interview process is obtaining references, but how do you know these references are legitimate?

Here are some helpful tips to ensure you’re getting honest renters!

1. Your First Point of Reference: Interviewing the Tenant
Always interview a potential tenant first before calling references.

Some critical questions to ask:

  • “What is your monthly income?” - Verify this information with their current boss.
  • “What are your monthly debt obligations?” - Verify by running a credit report after they sign a consent.
  • “What do you think your former boss (and/or landlord) will say about you?”

Specific questions like the above will help you notice any discrepancies between what the tenant says and what their former boss/landlord actually shares when you call them.

2. Find Your Own Contact Number
For employment references, instead of calling the number given by the tenant, Google the business name and then ask for a person in HR and/or your prospective tenant’s supervisor.

This will ensure that you have a legitimate reference to interview.

3. Use an Online Tenant Background Service
Double-check all the information a tenant has given you with an online tenant background service.

If they have supplied any incorrect information, this should be a red flag that their references may not be legitimate.

Any discrepancies with the background check are indications of a potentially deceptive tenant.

4. Confirmation
Ask every reference to confirm their relationship with the tenant.

If possible, have the reference send you an email from a business email address that matches with the business the tenant listed.

5. Always Call
Written references are much easier to forge by potential tenants, so always call!

Never rely solely on a letter.

Furthermore, there are many subtle clues that are lost when a reference is in writing.

You may not get the full tone of a comment, and you don’t have the opportunity to question something you’re unsure about.

6. Don’t Limit Yourself
You don’t have to exclusively call the references given by the prospective tenant.

Do your own investigating.

For example, go to their former residence and speak to their neighbors.

Leverage your own social circle; maybe someone you know and trust has known your candidate for a long time and can provide you with a candid reference.

7. Ask References for Additional References
Expand your circle even more by asking the references you speak to for more names of other references.

This will give you a variety of insights into the true nature and character of your applicant.

For example, you could say, “Thank you Mr. X for your time, can you please provide me with the contact information for another individual who has closely worked with my applicant?”

Then start contacting these secondary references to verify what you have already learned.

8. Check Public Records
If the landlord reference is an individual and not part of a management company, be sure to check public records to ensure that the landlord is who they say they are.

9. Read Between the Lines
Omitted information is very telling, so always look for any blank sections on the application.

When an applicant knowingly does not provide a former employer or former landlord on an application, it’s probably a red flag.

To encourage them to complete this section, consider asking for at least two former bosses and two former landlords.

Their current landlord may be trying to get rid of them, so it’s always better to speak with a former landlord.

Posted on May 04, 2015


The Landlord Tenant Board: What it is and When it is Needed

Many times, there are issues between a landlord and a tenant that need to be resolved but are failed to do so, because both parties have gone too far with their actions, and have retaliated in the... More

How to Review a Rental Application

When it comes to reviewing a rental application, all of it may seem daunting; you will find it overwhelming because there is so much information that you yourself have to go through before the tenant... More

How to Create a Residential Lease Agreement

Where there is a landlord, there will also be a tenant, and it is no surprise that these two parties can only work together once there is some sort of agreement, contract or a binding deal in place.... More

The Best Sites for Rental and Lease Agreement Templates

Many landlords find it difficult to write and draft a lease agreement. Since every State has its own general template, it can also be difficult to make sure your lease agreement meets all the criteria... More

Landlord Obligations: The Responsibilities of a Landlord

Becoming a landlord is a major deal and no one can simply get up and think, “well, yes I think I should be a landlord and rent out my flat.” If you are thinking that you would like to be a landlord,... More

The Best Landlord Associations for Landlords to Join

If you’re a landlord and want to manage your business in a better way, you should endeavor to get in touch with those industry experts who have the experience and the skills to help you do it. This is... More

The Best Landlord Forums

Landlords and aspiring landlords, do not become as such, without guidance and advice. There is a lot that goes into being a landlord nowadays; in fact, there is so much to learn that it often confuses... More

The Biggest Landlord Problems and How to Fix Them

Renting out an apartment or a house can become a constant revenue source for landlords, but at the same time, it gives rise to several problems. It is a fact that high standards, a strict lease... More

Landlord Tenant Disputes

If you are currently thinking of becoming a landlord only because it helps you have a constant stream of income, you should think twice. It’s not that you should not consider offering your property... More

Prospective Tenants

In case you’re going to establish a new landlord tenant relationship, it is important that you proceed with extreme care. Though it is a good idea to offer your property for rent and make some money,... More