How to find out who manages a rental property, not the owner.

14 Replies

I want to know if anyone knows a way to find out who manages a rental property.

I want to verify that my applicant gave me the right contact information of their previous landlord/property manager and not his friend posing for a landlord. I know I can call the county and find out who the owner is, but a lot of times the owner is not the contact person, but the property manager is, how do I verify the property manager of an address?

I know you can call the previous landlord on application and ask very specific questions about the tenant to see if they are real landlord or not, but those are not good enough because there are a lot of fake landlord services out there that know how to be fake landlords (google "fake landlord reference") So I need a better way to verify this.

Is there a tool where I can search this online? or any other way experienced property managers go about this? or am I the only one who is too conservative on tenant screening?

Thanks for any help or direction.

I have caught several tenants not being truthful about their previous rental history by doing exactly what you are worried about - tenants giving a friend's name and number as the "property manager" or "owner."  

One thing you can do is search (or ask a Realtor) to see if the property has been listed in the MLS as a rental. It's usually the management company who lists the property.

Also, if you are worried about prior evictions or damage to the rental, you can search public court records.

Dawn

Most applicants that do this sort of thing count on the fact that most landlords won't do anything to verify the contact info they put on the application. However, property managers need to be licensed so you should be able to confirm their license/contact info online to make sure you're talking to a legit PM. Property owners' names are also public record so that'd be another way to confirm it. 

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If it's a property management company that is worth anything, they will have a website. If you google the phone number they give, it should pick up the website.
If it's an apartment it's a lot easier than a SFR but the same rules should apply. Google the number and see what you can research.
If it seemed to check out so far I would just ask who the owner of the property is and match it up with the county data base. At this point is should be clear which are real and who isn't.

Originally posted by @Vitaliy Merkulov :

@Kyle J. where can I confirm PM license/contact info online?

You can check their license status here: http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp

I would also Google the phone number that the applicant provided to make sure it comes back to the PM.  You should be able to verify that the number comes back to the agent/company and may even see other listings that they have. 

@Vitaliy Merkulov , Before I do anything I confirm the PM exists and that they manage the property by comparing the name, address and phone number with the information applicant puts down. Here's how:

1. Do an internet search of the property management company's name, address and phone number to determine it is a legitimate business before you start calling or faxing a reference. Then call the number listed on the internet and ask if they manage that property because you are doing a rental history verification from a previous/current tenant. Ask them for the fax number or email for where you can send the applicant's signed consent. In addition, since you are a realtor, you should have access to the MLS and can see who listed the property before for rent, just as a further verification.

2. Once you've determined the PM is actual company to secure a landlord reference, get the applicant to sign a consent form allowing you to do a rental history verification. Doing so shows the applicant that you will be verifying everything and if they are giving you phony information, they will drop out.  If they are a sincere and honest applicant, they will give you what you request.  Fax or email this form to the PM. Your form should ask them specific questions. For example, Did this tenant pay late and what dates? Was this tenant ever issued a three day notice and for what reason?

3. You can have your third party screening service do an eviction screening or like Dawn said, you can go to the Courthouse on Bicentennial Circle, 2nd floor to check it yourself. There's a small fee to do it online but if you have someone go in person, it's free. Keep in mind, eviction screenings do not protect you or your client from those tenants who skipped out in the middle of the night, did a cash for keys or who were chronic late payers and court records won't show an eviction record right away. While your runner is at the Courthouse, I'd look to see if any judgments were awarded against the applicant too. Sometimes, the previous landlord will file a judgment for unpaid rent or damages and not go all the way to an eviction. 

Note: If you are dealing with a private landlord, contact the tax assessor's office on Power Inn Rd. With a phone call, they should be able to tell you the name of the owner is the one matching that address. Compare this to the name the applicant gives you. You can also find this information on the Tax info pull down menu on MLS site and do a search that way by inserting the property address.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

If your state or municipality requires property managers to be licensed, that public database would be able to tell you if the name you have on your application is in fact a real property manager.

Otherwise, you could contact the owner of record and just ask them if the name you have is valid.

Originally posted by @Tom V.:

If your state or municipality requires property managers to be licensed, that public database would be able to tell you if the name you have on your application is in fact a real property manager.

Otherwise, you could contact the owner of record and just ask them if the name you have is valid.

Whoops, looks like some other people beat me to it with the same suggestions. Sorry for the redundancy.

Just casually ask the "PM" when you call them who the owner of the property is.  If the tenant is running some funny business with a friend, they most likely won't be prepared with this information. 

You, on the other hand,  can find this info yourself through the municipal tax rolls before making the call.

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Originally posted by @Kyle J. :
Originally posted by @Vitaliy Merkulov:

@Kyle J. where can I confirm PM license/contact info online?

You can check their license status here: http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp

I would also Google the phone number that the applicant provided to make sure it comes back to the PM.  You should be able to verify that the number comes back to the agent/company and may even see other listings that they have. 

 @Kyle looks like the public license information website doesn't give the contact info :(

Originally posted by @Vitaliy Merkulov :
Originally posted by @Kyle J.:
Originally posted by @Vitaliy Merkulov:

@Kyle J. where can I confirm PM license/contact info online?

You can check their license status here: http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp

I would also Google the phone number that the applicant provided to make sure it comes back to the PM.  You should be able to verify that the number comes back to the agent/company and may even see other listings that they have. 

 @Kyle looks like the public license information website doesn't give the contact info :(

Sure it does. It gives you the licensee's address as well as their employing broker's name and address too. If you also wanted a phone number for either a quick Google search should reveal it.