Landlord References are far From Perfect

Common Issues with Landlord References

Some Landlords seem determined to stay in the stone age of verifying a resident’s identity.  The old practice is calling up the previous landlord and asking what the tenant was like during their stay.  This can be especially problematic in terms of inaccuracies and in some cases, blatant false information.  Some of the problems in calling previous landlords to verify information are…

  1. Landlords are not always readily available to provide the information.  They themselves are busy (or irresponsible) with their property.

  2. If you ask your tenants for the reference of a previous landlord.  Sometimes they will provide a friend’s phone number to impersonate the landlord and lie about the rental history.

  3. When looking at a rental history, you usually are only able to go back by a couple of rental properties.

  4. If you only are able to look back by one property, you run the risk of biased information either favorable or unfavorable coming from the landlord that you contact.  Nobody is infallible.  If any kind of personable relationship has developed with the tenant or if the landlord simply is not taking adequate documentation to alert of problematic behavior, then that landlord’s reference is useless.

Use Supplementations to Landlord References

Because of the above issues, it’s important to have other ways to verify a tenant’s history.  theRRD has taken steps to solve these problems by creating an incident reporting database.  In supplication with other forms of verification, the incident reporting database offers landlords a more thorough investigation into a tenant’s rental history.  Landlords are pre-verified to be who they say they are before reporting incidents into our database.  The database also provides landlords the potential to look back further into a tenant’s rental history than they would be able to with a couple of landlord references.

Another valuable way of doing this is by utilizing a tenant screening service that checks credit, criminal, rental history, and more.  This provides you information that the previous landlord would not be able to provide.  Criminal activity is not always obvious or known, but that doesn’t change the affects it has on a neighborhood.  Bad credit doesn’t tell you everything as it’s possible to have bad credit and still make your rent payments on time, but it is a measure of a tenant’s ability to pay their rent on a monthly basis.  If a financial crisis were to happen to the tenant at any point in time, they may not be able to pay you rent even if they’ve been generally responsible.

The bottom line is that while talking to previous landlords is very much encouraged, it should not be depended on as the primary or only system utilized to verify information about a prospective tenant.  By combining tools, you can have a comprehensive verification of a tenant’s background.

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