When a landlord takes on a new tenant, he wants to make sure that tenant can handle the monthly rent payments and will not damage his rental property. Landlords have the right to ask a tenant to provide several pieces of personal information, such as financial information, employment and the names of previous landlords. This information can help a landlord screen the tenant and make the best decision.
A landlord should check financial references, credit, previous landlords and personal references. The landlord can request that the tenant provide his checking and savings account information to serve as a financial reference. The tenant can provide his Social Security number to allow the landlord to access his credit report. The tenant can also provide contact information for his previous landlords. Personal references can consist of anyone the tenant feels can speak on his behalf. For example, a co-worker, friend or neighbor can serve as a personal reference.
Tenant references can help a landlord prevent potential problems in the future and protect the landlord's investment. For example, by contacting a previous landlord, the new landlord could learn the tenant caused severe damages to the property. By requesting a tenant's financial information, the landlord can check whether the tenant can manage basic finances. A credit check can help determine if the tenant will pay the rent on a time. A history of late payments may indicate that the tenant will develop a pattern of paying the rent late.
The landlord should review a tenant's references carefully and make any further investigations he wishes. For example, the landlord can request a copy of the tenant's credit history from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Some state laws allow the landlord to charge the tenant a fee for running a credit check. The landlord can also call personal references to get a better feel for the tenant's personality and behavior. The landlord can call the tenant's employer to determine if the tenant has a secure position.
The landlord should consider other aspects of the tenant's personality or lifestyle when considering the tenant for a rental property. For example, if the landlord has a no-pet policy, he should ask the tenant if she has any pets. The landlord should also determine if the tenant plans to have a roommate. If the tenant wants a roommate, the landlord should ask for references for the roommate as well.