One of the key elements of success for any rental property is finding good tenants. Having a screening process in place is essential for vetting applicants. One of the best ways to determine how trustworthy a potential tenant will be is to contact their landlord references. Unfortunately, it’s common for some applicants to provide fake references in order to hide their negative history with previous landlords. So how can you tell which references are fake? Let’s break it down.
Pretend to be a renter
One great way to check the authenticity of a reference is to pretend to be a renter. Call the number the applicant gave you and ask the person who answers if they have any rentals available. A real landlord will be able to answer you in a straightforward manner about what may or may not be available. But if the person on the other end of the line seems flustered or confused, that’s a red flag. If they do say they have available units, then up the ante by asking to schedule an appointment. When the time comes, don’t be surprised if you get a last-minute phone call canceling the appointment.
Ask for details
When you call the reference, instead of asking them to confirm the details you’ve been given, ask them to provide the details. A real landlord will most likely have files on each of their previous tenants and should be able to answer simple questions like the tenant’s date of birth and the dates that the tenant moved in and out. Then ask questions about whether the tenant paid their rent on time or if they caused any damage to the rental unit. Pay attention to how they answer these questions. Any responses that are overly vague or too detailed could mean the reference isn’t real.
Research tax and property records
Another great way to check the authenticity of a reference is to research the tax and property records for the tenant’s previous addresses. You will quickly see whether or not the reference you’ve been given is connected to that property. Be aware, though, that if the reference is a property manager and not an owner, or if the reference has since sold the property, their information would not appear in the tax records.
Check social media
Social media has sunk many a ship. Look up the profiles of both the potential tenant and the landlord reference on social media sights such as Facebook and Instagram. If you see that they are connected, such as liking or tagging each other’s posts, then you could have a fake reference on your hands. It’s uncommon for landlords to be such good friends with tenants.
Verify phone numbers
Finally, do a simple search online to see if the phone number you were given matches the name of the reference. You can also look up the landlord to see what numbers they list online and whether they match the one on the application. If you find a different number, try calling it to see who answers.
Contact Agent inc. today
Would you like help spotting fake references on your rental applications? Then contact the experts at Agent inc. today at 949-791-8160 or [email protected]. We can help you take your investment properties to the next level.