What to say when calling current landlord to screen applicant

6 Replies

So I have decided to manage 1 of my properties myself. I have property management on my others. I currently have a few applications. I am planning on calling their current landlords and asking them a few questions. Am I out of line by asking about the applicants behavior, payment promptness, and cleanliness?

Some states may have regulations on what you can/can not ask. I generally ask dates of residency and rental amounts to verify what the tenant reported. These are the questions that I ask. I've found most individual landlords will answer them, but larger property managers are a little more hit or miss on the info they will release. 

1.) ____YES ____NO Did the tenant pay their rent on time?

2.) ____YES ____NO Have You received any complaints?

3.) ____YES ____NO Did Tenant damage property during Tenancy?

4.) ____YES ____NO Would you rent to Tenant again?

5.) ____YES ____NO Did Tenant give you a 30 day notice?

"I am planning on calling their current landlords and asking them a few questions."

Not at all, but sharp landlords that understand tenants won't say anything bad about them besides factual stuff like paying rent on time.

Also, if they haven't been there at the current landlord very long, call the prior landlord. Current landlord may want to paint this guy as an angel just to get him out.

@Preston Quinn Steve Morris is correct about calling last two landlord's!

Also, how do you know the person your calling is the actual landlord? Not uncommon for an applicant facing eviction from their current landlord to have someone pissed as their landlord. Couple suggestions:

1) Never ask yes or no questions. To easy to take knowing the answer! Instead of asking, "did they pay on time", ask, "how is/was there payment history?"

2) Check public records to see who the owner is before calling. Use this Intel to trip them up.

Also ask, did they cause any damages? Did they leave any past-due utility bills? How many people lived in the home? Did they have any pets? How many times were they late with the rent? How did they pay rent electronically checks money orders etc? Why or why not would you rent to them again?

Originally posted by @Drew Sygit :

@Preston Quinn Steve Morris is correct about calling last two landlord's!

Also, how do you know the person your calling is the actual landlord? Not uncommon for an applicant facing eviction from their current landlord to have someone pissed as their landlord. Couple suggestions:

1) Never ask yes or no questions. To easy to take knowing the answer! Instead of asking, "did they pay on time", ask, "how is/was there payment history?"

2) Check public records to see who the owner is before calling. Use this Intel to trip them up.

Also ask, did they cause any damages? Did they leave any past-due utility bills? How many people lived in the home? Did they have any pets? How many times were they late with the rent? How did they pay rent electronically checks money orders etc? Why or why not would you rent to them again?

Yes on all of this, but especially the bolded.  Where I live, eviction court opened back up in mid-June and the federal eviction moratorium on some properties/tenants ends in a couple weeks (thought it will probably be extended).  So evictions or tenants moving out because they know it's coming are flying fast and furious right now.

I recently had some vacancies and caught two different applicants giving me false current landlord info. I look up the property info before I call, so I know who or what business owns the property. After I've asked the typical landlord reference questions that people have mentioned above, I ask 1-2 "verification" questions. Things that only the owner is likely to know. Like, "For verification purposes, can you please tell me the name of the LLC you own this property under?" Or, if an individual owns the property but it's a different name, "Since it looks like you don't own this property. Can you tell me the name of the person who does and your relationship to them?"

I call at least two landlord and ask a few yes/no and an open ended question like, Tell me about your experience with this renter?