Checking Tenant References

When your tenants are in the process of finding a new rental outside your organization they will likely give your contact information as a reference to their next landlord, just the same as you would have gotten their previous landlord’s information. This is a chance to assist a fellow property manager by giving them an honest and professional account of your experience with the soon-to-be previous tenant. Regardless if the request for a reference comes in via phone call or letter, here are some simple tips to processing tenant references easily and quickly.

Be Specific
The most helpful information you can give a new landlord about a previous tenant are descriptive details and facts. Keep your own feelings towards the tenant out of your reference, facts are all that’s needed. Stating that the resident was ‘a good tenant’ doesn’t help either, be specific on whether they kept the unit in the same condition it was upon move-in, if they paid their rent and utilities on time, etc. A phone call is generally the best way to give a reference for a new landlord so he/she can ask more descriptive questions – while an email or letter is more open ended.

Emphasize on tenant responsibility
The biggest worry and risk of accepting a new tenant is whether they will pay the rent on time, care for the unit properly, and follow the rules outlined in the lease agreement. Inform the future landlord as to how long the tenant resided in one of your properties, if rental payments were made on time, and if they maintain an acceptable level of cleanliness. Also, be sure to report any incidents with the tenants regarding such things.  Did he/she offend other guests?  Was she partying late every weekend?  Keep it to the details and avoid your personality likes or dislikes.

Be honest
While not always easy, stick with the facts, regardless of how you feel about the residents. You can be held accountable for everything you say or write in a reference and providing false information could likely result in legal troubles.  But besides that, it’s important to remember that you’d want the same in a reference.  Do unto others – or something like that.

Be available
Even if you’ve already answered their questions, be sure to stay available to the new landlord as they may have further inquiries.  While this may not seem as obvious, this is something you should always be doing regardless.  Relationships within the industry go a long way.  You never know who might pass you a lead down the road, or the reference reversed.

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Kurt Kroeck

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By Kurt Kroeck

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