A critical step for landlords in the rental industry is finding the right tenant for their property. This means being able to sort through tenant rental applications and verify whether each applicant can be trusted to make monthly payments consistently, on time and with minimum risk.
That’s where the rental verification process enters the picture. From first-time landlords to seasoned professionals, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the best methods to successfully verify an applicant’s residential rental history.
So, what does that process look like? Keep reading and discover our tried and true tips for finding the ideal tenant through rental verification.
What is rental verification?
Rental verification, also known as tenant verification, provides landlords and property managers a look into a potential tenant’s rental history. This is achieved by running a tenant background check and confirming each applicant’s rental and financial history via documentation, phone and/or email.
The goal of rental verification is to confirm whether the rental and financial details provided by the tenant are factual and accurate. It also gives each landlord and property manager the ability to reach out to prior landlords for their experience with the prospective tenant. If there are any discrepancies, omissions or false information, the landlord can then make an educated decision to reject or accept the application.
Typically, the rental verification process takes between 48 to 72 hours, but it may take longer if a landlord has a large number of applicants to verify.
What should landlords look for in rental verification?
Key information to look for in a prospective tenant’s rental application is their current or past landlord’s contact information. If the applicant has rented before and omitted this information, it’s not a good sign. However, if that information is provided, you will still want to reach out and inquire about that tenant’s time renting from their previous or current landlord. Including their landlord’s phone number is important, but it’s not hard proof that they were an upstanding tenant.
Important reminder: Before contacting a previous or current landlord, have the applicant provide signed consent for you to reach out to them. Due to privacy laws, most states require signed permission from the applicant to discuss tenants with a current and former landlord.
How to (manually) verify rental history
Most landlords ask for references, but not all go through a manual rental verification process. If you choose to do so, here is a step-by-step guide:
1. Receive the tenant’s rental application form and signed consent
Before any rental verification can begin, the landlord must receive the prospective tenant’s rental application form. For landlords that want to update their rental applications, check out AAOA’s free rental application form.
These two documents should include the renter’s previous and current landlords and written permission to contact them. If it’s allowed in your state, include the signed consent form as part of the application process.
2. Confirm the provided rental information
Once you receive this information, it’s time to make sure that every detail is factual and accurate. You’ll want to discover if anything was omitted or incorrect immediately so that you can move on to other suitable applicants.
To start, you can contact the listed landlords. If you’re unable to reach them, we suggest that you leave one to (at most!) three messages requesting that they call you back.
When you reach out to prior or current landlords for your applicants, be sure to have a list of questions that will help verify whether you would want to rent to this tenant. You want to leave the conversation with a greater insight into your applicant.
Below are some helpful questions you might want to include in your rental verification form and notes:
- Is this a prior or current tenant of yours? First things first, always confirm whether the applicant actually lived at this address.
- Did this tenant pay rent consistently and on time? A major red flag is if the tenant regularly struggled with or missed monthly rent payments. This could carry over to their next rental property.
- Was/is the property well maintained by the applicant? If the prospective tenant has a history of damaging or trashing their past rental property, you’ll want to know.
- Did the applicant violate any terms of their lease agreement? This can help you gauge whether or not the tenant will follow the terms of your lease agreement.
- Were there any complaints or disturbances caused by the tenant? Noise complaints and disruptive behavior are important behaviors to screen for in your applicants. You don’t want new tenants causing headaches for neighbors or other renters — especially since that’ll lead to more headaches for you, too.
- Would you rent to the tenant again? This is one of the most important questions to ask prior landlords. If the answer is a hard no, then you can save time and move forward with another applicant.
3. Verify details with the tenant (optional)
If the first two steps go smoothly and all information matches up, it may not be necessary to additionally reach out to the tenant. However, if you receive conflicting accounts from their previous or current landlords, you may want to go the extra step and connect with the tenant themselves about those details.
Both a tenant and a landlord can lie or omit details regarding past rental history. In some cases, the previous landlord may be exaggerating or inaccurately reporting the situation because they’re unhappy the tenant is leaving. If you’re unsure about the conversation you have with a past landlord, don’t hesitate to reach out to the prospective tenant for further clarification.
What if tenants don’t have a rental history?
If your property is in an area with a large demographic of college students or first-time renters, they may not have a substantial rental history. In this case, you’ll need other methods to verify if they’re ideal tenants than a rental or credit history check.
Instead, ask for pay stubs, tax return stubs and co-signed leases to determine if they are able to rent your property.
Why is rental verification important?
Taking the extra step to verify rental history ensures that you make the best, most informed decision for your rental property. Past tenant behavior, finances and rental history are insightful predictors for how your experience renting with them will go.
Without rental verification, you may end up with less than an ideal tenant, or, worst-case scenario, a potential future eviction. You don’t want to spend unnecessary time chasing tenants for nonpayment, and evictions are lengthy, costly processes. Rental verification can prevent those losses before they occur.
Rental verification and tenant screening with AAOA
You don’t have to manually go through the rental verification process. Instead, you can utilize AAOA’s tenant screening services to do this for you.
This solution relieves the time-consuming pressures that manual verification can add to each landlord’s workload and ensures ideal tenants are selected. The tenant screening process reveals whether applicants paid rent on time or have an undisclosed eviction history — which can indicate difficulties with the tenant later on.
Through a tenant screening report, landlords are able to view evictions within the last seven years. A comprehensive tenant screening report can also help you discern the character of your applicants and whether their income can support the monthly rent payment.
Some of the checks offered by AAOA include:
- Criminal history checks
- Credit score checks
- Sex offender history
- Eviction history
- Verification services
With AAOA tenant screening, you can protect your property and find ideal tenants today! Start screening your tenant.