When a new/prospective landlord calls regarding one of your existing/past tenants with questions, and if it wasn't a good tenant, what's the best way to handle the responses?
Be honest, straight forward and give them the information they're looking for. If you were to call someone for a landlord reference, you would expect and appreciate an honest answer from them, especially if they were a poor tenant, so provide the same courtesy. There's no need to go overboard and complain about your tenant, but as a landlord, we have to help each other out when we can!
Be glad it was a previous tenant and not a current one. If it was a current tenant, you may be reluctant to give a poor reference as it might delay you getting rid of the tenant. But as landlords, we DO have to hold tenants accountable and follow through with evictions and judgments. Otherwise, these tenants will continue to abuse landlords.
Which is why I typically call one landlord prior to the most recent for a more honest response
Hi Peter! As the other posts said, I would be honest and upfront about the tenant to protect the prospective landlord. If you were in their shoes, you would be trusting the past landlord's reference and wouldn't want to end up with a bad tenant.
Make sure you have a signed release form from the tenant giving permission for the prospective landlord to make rental reference inquiries. At least in CA this important.
These are the questions I ask and will answer:
Dates of residence?
How many times in last 12/24 months did they pay late?
Have any checks/funds been returned for NSF?
Did you ever file an unlawful detainer against the tenant?
If yes, what was the outcome
Does the tenant owe any monies for outstanding rent, damages, utilities etc?
Did the tenant provide proper notice for ending the tenancy according to the lease agreement?
Did you ever serve a three day notice to the applicant?
If yes, explain?
Would you rent to them again?
Generally speaking, I would be honest. Not malicious, but honest. I've often wondered why tenants with a bad tenancy feel inclined to give me as a reference.