What are the types of Reference Checks performed on Tenants?

Reference checks are a vital part of the tenant screening process. An applicant's history can help gauge future tenancy; so, a clear picture of the applicant's past can provide you with insight that can be helpful in your decision-making process. For a comprehensive reference check, it is recommended that you enquire the current/past landlords and employers of the applicants. The below questions can help you with the reference checks.

Questions for Current/Past Landlords:

1.  What is/was the duration of the tenancy?

The length of time the applicant has stayed in their previous tenancies might give you a good idea of how steady a person is when it comes to residing at a property. If your idea of an ideal tenant is one with whom you can have a long period of tenancy with, then those with a track record of shifting base in short periods of time might not be optimal for you.

2.  Who were listed as occupants on the lease?

It is always prudent to know the number of people accompanying the applicant during their tenancy. The applicant might include just a couple of names as co-occupants in the agreement, but if they have a history of friends who keep squatting at their property for prolonged periods of time, it should trigger some alarm bells for you.

3.  How consistent was the rent payment?

Running behind the tenant for collecting monthly rent is the worst nightmare for any landlord. It is always nice to enquire previous landlords to know how the applicant is when it comes to paying the rent on time. Any prior instances of late or no payments mean that you should be wary of the applicant.

4.  Did the tenant maintain the property well?

If you want to ensure proper maintenance of your property post-tenancy, a check of the applicant's maintenance of the property they have resided before will give you a good idea of their attitude towards maintenance and general cleanliness. Although you have the tenant's security deposit to take care of any damage done to your property during their stay, it is always wise to rent/lease to people who have a track record of good maintenance.

5.  Did the neighbours have any complaints?

'Love thy neighbour' is an oft quoted phrase, although most people don't implement it in their daily lives. It doesn't matter if the applicant has not been 'loved' by their former neighbours, but any instances of quarrel or arguments would mean that the applicant is not the ideal neighbour.

6.  Why did they leave your property?

No one likes to shift residences without a good reason, although what constitutes a good reason is anyone's guess. If the reason for shifting from previous property is eviction by the landlord, or any other reason that can be deemed unsavoury, it would be imprudent to rent/lease your property to such an applicant.

Questions for Employer(s):

1.  Can you confirm that the applicant is/has working/worked at your company? This should be your first question to the employer, as some people tend to fill false employment detail in their application. Making sure that people work where they say they are would be a good start to employer referral questions.

2.  How much do they earn?

People sometimes make the mistake of believing that their quality of living need not be based on their level of income. A general rule of thumb when it comes to renting property is to see if the applicant's monthly earning is at least three times their rent. If not, they might find it difficult to pay the rent on time, leading to uncomfortable situations in the future for both you and them.

3.  What are the terms of employment?

Is the applicant a permanent employee or are they on a trial period or a contract? This question might help you gauge effectively if the tenancy would be viable in the long run. Those who are employed on a trial period or contract would be able to afford rent in the near future, but the affordability might become unsure after the trial period or contract expires.

4.  How is the applicant's attitude at the workplace?

During your meeting with the applicant, they might have seemed well-mannered and pleasant, but to know a person better it is advisable to enquire about them at their workplace, as people spend a good percent of their time at their place of work. 

The above questions, along with thorough credit and background checks would help you in finding the right tenant for your property.