What info can I share about my tenant's tenancy?

8 Replies

Hi BP community, I am not sure where to find the answer to my question so I am hoping you can help me out. I have been contacted by a property manager asking for a reference for my previous tenant, who has applied for one of their properties. Are there laws or guidelines about what information I can/can't share with them? What information do you usually share when asked? The property is in South Carolina. I dont have a copy in front of me to double check, but I don't remember seeing anything about this in SC's landlord-tenant law.

Hey Melissa! Ask them for a landlord reference form signed by the tenant, that will give you permission to share their rental history. It will typically ask things like the rental amount, times they were late, any problems you've had with them, and if you'd rent to them again.

Hi,

We are a property management company located in the Boston area. I am not sure what the exact laws are, but we tend to not give too much information regarding the tenant. For example, if we say that the individual was a great tenant and they always paid their rent on time and they end up not being a good tenant at their new residence, it doesn't look great on us. Also, some landlords/property managers will say the tenant was great even if they weren't in order to get them out of the unit. Hope that helps!

I put FAR more emphasis on their work reference. Most independent landlords are negligent at best wrt keeping on top of their assets. Far fewer employers fail to notice the cokehead deadbeat not performing as required...

Even professional managers are often completely checked out. And if they’re handling any more than 100 doors personally they likely have no clue who you’re even talking about.

Hi Melissa, I agree with @HannahPeerbolt.  Ask the management company to provide you with a signed authorization from the previous tenant to disclose information about tenancy.  Once received, I typically verify dates of tenancy, amount of rent, if I would rent to them again.  Best, Teresa

@Hannah Peerbolt great input, thank you!

@Lucas Merchant I'm thinking that instead of offering an opinion, of offering facts and let them decide.

@Kris F. Thanks!

As I've been reading up on the subject, it seems a big concern with providing references is being sued for slander. If I keep my response limited to facts, such as length of tenancy, number of times late on rent, how he maintained the house/yard it seems like I'd be safe. Trickier is expressing that he lies when it suits him, is a difficult and demanding tenant, and that we've had to issue a 5-day pay or quit on him recently. (He paid so there are no court records on it.)

I suppose I could offer the positive (not candy-coated) & factual information safely, then sum up the rest with what would be my answer to whether I would rent to him again...??

@Teresa F. thanks for your input. @Teresa F. & @Hannah Peerbolt Just wondering, if the prospective landlord can't/doesn't provide the signed release, do you provide any info at all? Since some landlords share info without a release, what is your reasoning for requiring the release (just curious)?

@Melissa Robles , what kind of tenant were they? If they paid on time and you had no complaints from neighbors, then I would say that. While that may not be true going forward, it was true while they were at your property. (Or however they were.)

If they paid late 4 months out of 12, then I'd say that too. Again, facts are facts. If they paid late 4 times out of 12 and you say "They were late all the time" that's where you can get in hot water.

Stick to facts that you would want to know as a landlord. They paid on time, they were quiet and respectful of their neighbors, you would rent to them again. Or not.

I have to agree with the posts above. Get a landlord reference form from them and then check South Carolina's landlord-tenant laws to see if there are any restrictions on what you can disclose in the reference. As Hannah said, the form will typically ask whether they were on time with rent payments, if they caused any noise complaints, if you would rent to them again, etc.