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How to Vet a Tenant’s Rental History

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Part of any good tenant screening process is looking at a rental history. The way a resident has performed in the past is an excellent indicator of how that resident will perform in the future. When you’re evaluating tenants for your Fort Worth rental property, make sure you’re taking a close look at rental history and landlord references.

Ask for Landlord References

Every prospective tenant who wants to live in your rental property should be required to complete an application. That application should include landlord references. Ask for contact information for landlords that cover at least the last five years. Get their names, get the address where the tenant lived, and make sure you gather other details such as the amount of time the tenant lived there, the amount of rent that was paid, and the reason for leaving. Always ask for a phone number or email address for that landlord, property manager, or apartment community.

Check for Past Evictions

Make sure you do a nationwide check for past evictions before you contact any of the landlord references. Most rental property owners will automatically disqualify any tenants who have a recent eviction. If you’re willing to take on the risk of a tenant who was evicted previously, that’s okay – but you still want to know about the eviction. Sometimes, this will show up on a credit report, especially if money is owed to the former landlord. It’s not always there, however, so make sure you check the national eviction database.

Talk to Current and Former Landlords

We know that the screening process can be time consuming, and you’re anxious to get a tenant approved and placed in your property. However, it’s worth your time to call the landlord references your prospective tenant has provided.

These landlords collected rent, responded to maintenance, and answered questions for the tenant who may be moving into your property. They can provide a lot of information and help you decide whether this is an applicant you want to approve. We recommend you ask:

  • If rent was paid on time.
  • If any property damage was caused by the tenant’s abuse, misuse, or neglect.
  • If the entire security deposit was returned and if not, what was withheld and why.
  • If the tenant has or had pets.
  • If there were any disputes or conflicts.
  • If proper notice was given before the tenant moved out.
  • If there were any lease violations.
  • If they would rent to this tenant again.

Make Sure the Addresses Match Up

check documentCheck the applicant’s credit report against the application that’s submitted. If it looks like they lived at a specific address for two years but that address isn’t listed on the application, you may want to do some investigating. This could mean that they ended a relationship badly with a former landlord. That’s an important part of your applicant’s rental history, so address any inconsistencies you find during the background and credit check.

Professional Fort Worth property managers can do a thorough job of screening tenants and vetting their rental histories. We also make sure the screening process is completely compliant with all state, local, and federal fair housing guidelines. If you’d like some help, please contact us at McCaw Property Management.