Problems with Landlord Verification in Screening and the Solution

People regularly ask us if we actually do landlord verification. There are varied opinions among landlords and property managers over whether or not this is an effective method of tenant screening.

Despite the potential problems, which I’ll discuss if you can get a landlord to speak honestly and from knowledge about a tenant, they can provide some of the most valuable information. First, when I say from knowledge, I mean a landlord that was involved with the day-to-day; one that knew first-hand what kind of tenant the applicant has been or will be.

Why is landlord verification so valuable?

Because current and past landlords can provide you with the two most important pieces of information, you need when deciding whether or not to accept a tenant application.

  1. Do they pay and on time
  2. Did they do damage to the property

There are plenty of smaller bits of information you’ll need to know, but those two are the most important because they separate the good tenants from the not good tenants. What else could you want?

It might seem like common sense to talk to their landlord, but the property managers that are hesitant to do so, are with good reason. Current landlords may not be entirely honest with you about the tenant or may purposely mislead you.

Why would a landlord purposely mislead you? Obviously, you’re both in the same business; there should be some level of comradery there, right? There are two primary reasons a landlord will mislead a prospective landlord.

  1. The tenant is fantastic and they don’t want to lose them. If a landlord does not want to lose a tenant that pays on time, keeps the place clean, and doesn’t cause problems, they may mislead prospective landlords into thinking there are issues with the tenant to keep them.
  2. The tenant is horrible. Likewise, if a landlord wants to get rid of a tenant without the expense of an eviction, they may make the individual sound better than they are to convince you to rent to them.

With the risk of being misled, why would we still conduct landlord verification? While not completely fool-proof, we have found a solution to this problem.

In some cases, we know the previous landlord or property manager, and we are confident they will provide us with accurate information. Being in the business for a while, we’ve had the opportunity to network with many of the property owners in the area, which helps.

However, the solution, since you can’t bank on knowing the previous landlord is to get landlord information going back two addresses. If you can get in contact with the applicant’s previous landlord; not the one they are currently renting from, you can get more accurate information. The former landlord will have no vested interest in misleading you because the tenant is no longer with them anyway.

For more information on how we screen tenants, go to 7 Steps to Flawless Tenant Screening.

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

Our experienced investment property management team can relieve you of the burden of managing your rental property while saving you some serious money! Call us today at (440) 220-7300 to see how we can help you!

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