Verifying rental history is an essential part of the tenant screening process. Rental verifications compliment credit and public records searches or background checks, by:
- Detecting eviction activity that may not yet have found its way into public records data or onto the credit report (as a civil judgment).
- Revealing violations of landlord rules and regulations that may not have risen to the level of an eviction but are nevertheless important to you.
- Providing you with a more complete view of the kind of resident the applicant has been and is likely to be.
Logically, recent problems are most likely to go undetected in the landlord screening. Done correctly, rental verifications will reduce or eliminate the exposure.
Rental verifications should:
- Be done consistently.
- Include pursuit of undisclosed addresses found on credit reports – to determine whether they are apartment communities. Search engines such as Google are useful for this purpose. Consider asking the applicant about additional addresses appearing on the credit report but not disclosed on the application to rent.
- Be sensitive to the way the person answers the phone. It is most reassuring when the reference answers with the name of the apartment community.
- Ask questions in ways that confirm the veracity of the reference by testing their knowledge of property management. Some examples are:
- Was the rental agreement verbal or written?
- Was the agreement a lease or month-to-month?
- Ask the same questions of each reference – seeking fact versus opinion. For example:
- Number of documented noise complaints?
- Number of documented late payments?
- Move-in/move-out dates?
Whether you do them yourself or outsource the function to one of the many tenant screening services, rental verifications are essential to the tenant screening process, managing resident profile and a healthy bottom line.