Is it really necessary to check an applicant's employment and rental history? I say that it is necessary. The operation of a rental business is a business just like any other. The property is your investment and it is critical that you ensure you are placing your investment in the hands of a trustworthy tenant.
Checking a tenant's employment as well as rental history is a vital component of overall tenant screening. This crucial step can provide:
- Enhanced safety
- Greater peace of mind
- Fewer evictions
- Quality tenants
Keep in mind that running a credit check on your tenant can provide a wealth of information regarding whether your applicant will be able to meet the qualifications you have established for your rental. Additionally, a tenant background check will provide you with important information regarding the tenant's criminal history, if any. With that said, an employment and rental check can provide you with information that might not turn up on either the credit check or the background check.
Begin by contacting the applicant's current landlord. Additionally, you should make an attempt to contact at least one prior landlord. The more landlords you can contact, the better. While the current landlord may provide the applicant with a glowing recommendation, bear in mind that this could be because he or she is anxious to get rid of a problem tenant. Previous landlords usually have nothing lose, although there is always the possibility that they might have an axe to grind. Even so, if you begin to see a pattern emerge of late payments and unruly behavior, it is wise to be wary.
When speaking with previous landlords, make a point of asking whether the tenant paid the rent on time as well as whether he or she took care of the property. Also, find out whether the applicant was courteous to other tenants and whether he or she adhered to the rules of the rental agreement/lease.
Along with checking the applicant's rental history, it is also important to actually follow up on their employment history. Do not just take their word it. When speaking with the employer, make certain you are speaking with someone who has authorization to verify employment. Otherwise, you might find yourself speaking with a co-worker who is simply trying to help out their friend. In addition to speaking with the applicant's current employer, contact previous employers listed on the rental application. A quality tenant should be able to demonstrate a solid work history. Unless you actually take the time to follow up on that employment history, you will never know whether the tenant is being honest or not. A tenant with a history of employment gaps and job-hopping could prove to be problematic in terms of paying the rent in a timely manner. Take the time to verify his or her employment history so you do not face any surprises later on.
The more information that you can actually verify regarding an applicant's background, the better you will be able to develop a complete picture of that applicant and make a more informed decision.