Landlord reference check questions

Updated November 21, 2016

When a landlord rents out a property he will do background checks, employment verification and past-rent verification. Whether renting an apartment, town house or single-family residence, there are many ways in which a landlord can protect himself. For example, the landlord will make sure the renter has a stable work history. A landlord will also do a reference check with past landlords for residence history verification.

General Questions

When a landlord contacts a renter’s previous landlord for a reference check, there are several basic questions that are usually asked. Questions like, “When did they rent this property?”, “Do they still live there now?”, “What kind of structure is the property?” (This can be relevant if the tenants are going from an apartment to a house or vice versa).

It might also be relevant to ask if the previous landlord is related to the tenants. This way, the landlord doing the reference check would know if the information received was biased in any way.

Security Deposit/Rent Questions

A landlord doing a reference check with a previous landlord can ask about the rent and security deposit. For example, “What was their monthly rent?” and “What was their security deposit?” are commonly asked landlord reference questions. In addition, asking if the tenants received the security deposit back and if not, why, are good questions to ask. It would be important as a landlord to know if the tenants got the entire security deposit back and if not, what they did to the property to warrant that.

Also, finding out what the tenant’s previous rent amount was is important. This could dictate whether or not the tenants might have difficulties paying rent if the rent amount will be higher.

Follow-up Questions

A good and common follow-up question to ask the previous landlord during a reference check is, “Would you rent to them again?” A landlord could learn from this question and answer. If the previous landlord would rent to the tenants again, they may be worth approving.

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About the Author

Sarah Estlund is a freelance writer based out of Kansas City. Originally from the Hawkeye State, she received her degree in journalism from the University of Iowa. Estlund writes a dating column as well as more than 15 blogs ranging in topic from celebrity, fashion, pets, self-help and alternative medicine. She has a love of animals and shares that passion in her writing.