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10 Essential Questions to Ask When Checking a Renter's References

Published on: Jun 20, 2024

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After Nomad has confirmed that an applicant group meets our standard for Guaranteed Rent eligibility, checking references is a step many property owners like to take. This process can provide insights into the applicant's past behavior, reliability, and suitability as a tenant. By speaking with previous landlords or property managers, you can gain a better understanding of the applicant's rental history.

Nomad will collect an applicant’s rental history during the application process, it is your responsibility to contact these references if this feels important to you. 

Checking references can help you uncover any red flags that might not be evident from a credit report or background check alone. For instance, it can reveal patterns of late rent payments, property damage, or disputes with neighbors. Conversely, a positive reference can confirm that the applicant is responsible, financially stable, and respectful of property and community rules. Here are some essential questions to ask when checking a renter's references:

1. What dates did the applicant live at your property?

Confirming the applicant's residency dates helps verify their rental history and ensures there are no discrepancies in their application.

2. Did the applicant always pay rent on time?

Timely rent payments are a key indicator of a responsible tenant. This question helps you understand their payment habits.

3. If they answered no, how many times was their payment late?

If the applicant has a history of late payments, it's important to know the frequency. Occasional late payments might be acceptable, but a pattern could be a red flag.

4. Was the applicant's rent payment ever returned due to non-sufficient funds?

Returned payments can indicate financial instability. Knowing if this has happened can help assess the applicant's financial reliability.

5. Did the applicant have any animals at the property?

If the applicant has pets, you'll want to ensure they followed your property's pet policies and that there were no issues related to their animals.

6. Are there any complaints on record for the applicant?

This question can reveal if the applicant has had any behavioral issues or conflicts with neighbors, which can be a sign of potential problems.

7. Does the applicant owe any outstanding balance?

An outstanding balance could indicate financial issues or a lack of responsibility. It's important to know if they left any unpaid rent or fees.

8. Did the applicant give proper notice to vacate?

Proper notice indicates that the applicant respects lease agreements and follows proper procedures, which is a positive sign.

9. Are you related to the applicant?

References from family members can be biased. It's important to know the relationship to ensure the reference is objective.

10. Would you rent to the applicant again?

This is one of the most telling questions. If a previous landlord would not rent to the applicant again, it might be wise to consider other candidates.

By asking these questions, you can gather valuable insights into the applicant's rental history and make a more informed decision. Remember, thorough screening helps in selecting tenants who are responsible, reliable, and a good fit for your property.

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