10 Ways to Verify Truthfulness of an Application

(Before Even Running a Credit Check) 

 One landlord asked a question that many rental property owners wanted to hear answered:

“When you receive an application, what are the tricks you use to verify truthfulness without even doing a credit check?”

 1.      Scan Facebook and see if their page has any red flags that you need to investigate further. As one landlord puts it – Facebook Stalking.

2.      Pull up their current address on the county tax assessor’s website to see if the name they have given as their current landlord is actually their landlord.

3.      Many states allow a free court records check. I check my state and in the next state over, as we have a lot of people moving back and forth.

4.      Ask for their work supervisor’s phone number, but I never call the number they give me. Instead I look up the company and call that number, and ask for the name of their supervisor.

5.      I call the landlord listed on the application, but change the number of children and/or pets count. This trips up the person listed as the landlord’s phone number who may just be a friend posing as the landlord who is ready to respond positively to whatever you ask. In the same way, you can simply ask “Do you have the yellow house for rent?”

6.      Always get license plate info on the application. When using the website public data, you can enter the plate number. There is a box that comes up to click on that shows others at this address. A few weeks ago I did this and found out that the landlord lives at the same address. Did a drive by and sure enough, the landlord and tenant’s vehicles were at the same place.

7.      Ask for copy of a utility bill along with pay stubs, driver’s license, etc. Current utility bills should be the most accurate. 

8.      Google or Facebook the number listed as the current landlord and see what comes up. 

9.      Ask the applicant to bring a copy of their current lease.

10.  Check their LinkedIn.com page to see if their employment info is posted.

 After using some of the tricks above to verify information on the application, always run a credit check. It remains one of the absolute best ways to verify if someone has a good or bad track record paying bills. Plus credit reports can also offer additional information, including past addresses, other used aliases, whether the social security or date of birth matches the application information, a listing of creditors, and much more! This is all vital and helpful information. Check with your local associations for where you can run inexpensive tenant credit reports for as low as $9.95 like the one found on MrLandlord.com.

I Didn’t Do One Thing…  

A landlord described the following scenario and made a profound revelation that many landlords never quite get or fully understand.

Today, I discovered that a resident of six years moved out. There was no notice from them. The house was left in ok/fair condition, albeit not move-in ready. Six years ago, I was using a lease and converted to month to month terms after the initial 12 month residency. I also should say that during these past six years I have received very few service requests. I spent less than $500 on service for the duration. Obviously, I am not complaining. I am mindful that I didn’t do one thing to encourage them to stay longer. How should I have dealt with these good residents?

MY RESPONSE: If I really hear you, your big question is focused, not so much on how much of the deposit you’ll be keeping. Instead, you are asking a far bigger business question that will greatly affect future success and profits. I think you are asking what “proactive” steps could you have taken that would have helped extend the time these residents stayed with you even longer.

If that is your question I applaud you on taking a look inward at your procedures and recognizing that you can indeed improve – while the average landlord would be happy on how you “lucked” out and that resident stayed as long as they did. I’m glad for you that they did. But more importantly, I am so impressed that you don’t want to count on luck to be successful moving forward.

There are many proactive steps, including sending out a simple appreciation note annually or offering a choice of home improvements as an anniversary gift. The truth is that since you are now aware and “looking” for ways to encourage residents to stay longer, you will be amazed at how many ideas will come to you as you see successful businesses all around you showing appreciation to their customers. 

I should add that as you consider ideas to implement, the key is look to “systematically” implement and make contact at least three or four different times during the course of the year. Even having someone stop by the resident’s for a “courtesy” service/preventive maintenance check once or twice a year can count as a contact. You show that you appreciate them as a customer and it can also help with improving resident performance as you check on how they are taking care of your property.

Were you at this year’s convention? I shared that the first level of success as a landlord is becoming AWARE of what you need to know to be more successful. Most average landlords never become aware that resident retention is one of the 10 key management success categories where we, as landlords, need to improve on, and the part we can play to increase it. Congrats on starting the climb to greater business success.

  Track the Names of All Applicants   

Here is another of the hundreds tips shared weekly by a landlord on the popular MrLandlord.com Forum. Read below:
“I had a single female contact me about two weeks ago for a unit. Pre-screen reveals a “no-go” due to her pit bull. Yesterday, I showed the unit to a single guy with a “mix breed” dog, which usually always means a pit bull. Anyway, he submits an app this morning and in his list of other occupants he has two kids and the same girl I rejected two weeks ago. Hmmm. Today, his dog is suddenly a golden retriever mix. Yeah, we’ll see.  

Please note, the big tip here is that if I hadn’t tracked her name, I wouldn’t have caught or remembered this.  

The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular MrLandlord.com Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, Founder@Mrlandlord.com. To receive a free sample of Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at LandlordingAdvice.com, where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.