Landlord References

8 Replies

Hello all - 

I just tried calling a previous landlord/owner to get a reference on some applicants. She was grumpy and told me that since they have not given their notice to move out yet, she won't give me any information. She seemed kind of put out by my phone call in the first place. I've never had anyone refuse to give me any info before.

I can't call another landlord because they are young, and previously were in the army and living at home.

Everything else checks out fine. Would you rent to someone that you can't get a landlord reference on?


Can they prove that they paid the rent in time? Do they have rent receipts or cancelled checks? That will cover the timely paid rent.

I assume you already run their credit and it checked out fine, so just make sure you also verify employment and ask their employer if they will rent to these tenants if they were landlords.

Good luck!

Everything else checked out fine. The only hold up is the landlord. I will ask them for cancelled checks / rent receipts. Thanks.

Sounds like the landlord is grumpy. It's not a nice surprise to get surprise call that a tenant is moving on. Explain to the tenant that they need to disclose that they are leaving their current landlord and that is preventing them from moving in with you. Once the landlord gets the notice, they might give you the info you need.

That being said, this landlord sounds a bit mean and there is no guarantee that they will tell you what you need to know. 

We have rented to tenants with no reference.

The landlord is probably angry that they are moving out and it's fall.  Winter soon upon us.  (Snow schedule here in my city on Saturday)  :(  

If the tenant wasn't good, I would think the landlord may have said something in some way about the tenant.  But maybe the landlord is taken off guard and doesn't know what to say at the moment.  

Most landlords, and this is my pet peeve, will lie about their tenants, just to get them out of the rental house.  So I never check with landlords anyway.  I go strictly by the Credit Report.  It tells me everything about them that I want to know.  How many evictions they have, who they owe, and where they work.  

Pay check receipts is good and so is a copy of their taxes they filed last year. Not all their personal tax information, but earning reported to the IRS.

Nancy Neville

Make sure you're speaking to the real owner of the property. Check the property tax records to be sure. I've had previous landlords give bad references for tenants, and I appreciate that they're trying to help a fellow landlord. If the tenants' lease is up anyway, they'll be rid of bad tenants soon enough.

I'm pretty confident that it was the real landlord. I checked the tax records and even found her on Facebook. Besides, if she was not the real landlord, she probably would have given them a glowing reference. She did verify that they live in her rental house, just wouldn't tell me anything about them.

The reason the tenants didn't give her notice that they are moving out is because one of the people living there (my applicant's mother) is staying in the current house. Just her 27 year old son and girlfriend are moving out.

@Nancy Neville  I agree with you that often calling the landlord is a waste of time, because they will lie. But, I have had some that actually told me all the horror stories of the applicants. I like it when they do that. Saves me from being the next victim.

@Nancy Neville is right that some landlords lie but these lies seem to come from differrent circumstances. The classic lying landlord is the small to medium sized landlord who has a problem, a likely nonpaying tenant on their hands and wants to palm them off on some other unsuspecting landlord so easing the tenant's exit from the current landlord's property. I used to think that corporate landlords would play it straight, or straighter, but recently I had a lying corporate landlord.

The facts are instructive: calls to the corporate office for a reference brought a referral to the building manager's office. Calls to that office got an employee on the line (the tenant had asked that I specifically ask for her by name) and the employee swore that the tenant was fine and dandy and had never been late with rent. This I knew to be a lie because when I had asked the tenant if he had any dealings with the Landlord and Tenant Board he admitted to me that he had been taken to the  LTB for nonpayment of rent and was now on a payment plan. Screening was basically over then but I made the call to the corporate landlord mainly to see what they would say. Evidently the tenant was either friends with someone in the rental office and had arranged that they would give a glowing reference, or it was just another case as outlined above: the corporate landlord desperate to palm off a bad tenant. Lesson learned, I do more digging around than I used to and am not much assured by positive landlord references on their own or as mitigation for poor credit scores. I no longer see corporate landlord references as substantially more reliable than those of small landlords.

As long as credit, criminal, gut feeling, and income check out your probably fine.  Landlord reference is nice to have but not a deal breaker in the real world. 

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