Tips on Verifying An Applicant’s Information 

Here’s one recent story shared on the MrLandlord.com Q&A. “I called a previous landlord to verify reference on an applicant. She gave all good reviews, said the resident paid on time, was up to date on her payments and took good care of her place. I informed the applicant that she could move into my place and received a security deposit. Then, the previous landlord calls me back to say she felt guilty and did not want to pass her dead weight off to me. She said the girl was a tenant nightmare and admitted that she lied to me to get her out of her place.” 

Warning – Applicant’s Current Landlord May Lie!

The fact that some landlords may lie may not be a revelation to many of you. But just in case you are new to landlording, this revelation may save you a ton of grief, frustration and money. Why would a landlord lie? Often times it is because they are hoping to get rid of a problem resident, and so they do not disclose the truth of how bad the resident has been when another landlord calls to ask about an applicant’s rental history. The current landlord wants more than anything for their problem resident to move, so the current landlord does not want to say anything to scare the “next” landlord from accepting the applicant.

Again, a landlord not telling the truth or full truth regarding a departing resident is not uncommon. What was uncommon, was that the previous landlord in the above story felt guilty and called back the next unsuspecting landlord just in time.

This is why the following advice is given to landlords regarding verifying information on rental applicants: 

  • Never depend on a current landlord’s reference. Go back one or two landlords to get feedback.
  • Do what you can to actually verify they are the landlord and not a family member or friends.
  • Always check with landlords of addresses found on credit reports that are not listed on rental applications.
  • Have a clause in your lease that says if any information provided on rental application is discovered not to be true, this is grounds for nullifying acceptance of rental applicant and/or termination of the lease. 

Screening Tip – Employment Verification

I’ve seen many landlords saying how difficult it is to get verification of an applicant’s employment – I have 99% success in verifying employment. It’s important to know that pay stubs, in addition to being forged, can also be useless as they might have just been fired. The banks don’t just trust your pay stubs for a mortgage, they call your work! So here are some of my foolproof steps to get employment verification: 

  • Google the name of the company to find the phone number, don’t rely on what the applicant put on the application.
  • If it is a larger company, ask for their human resources or payroll department.
  • If it is mom and pop company, likely the person answering phone can help you.
  • Say that you are calling for a rental application and ask if they can verify the applicant’s name, position, dates of employment and salary.
  • If they ask, I fax them the signed consent form. Sometimes they will refuse to verify salary but that is ok if you know they are still employed as you have paystubs.

What To Do If Your Applicant Is Self-Employed

An often asked question by landlords is: “I have an applicant who is self employed and wants to rent my home. What should I require him to submit with his application?

The following are recommendations from several landlords nationwide. 

  • Ask for two months’ bank statements.
  • Get two years of tax returns (ideally prepared by a CPA).
  • Get verifying documentation that the business is registered and/or licensed.
  • Find out if the business is local and has been around for several years
  • Still do full background/credit check as well.  

Should You Accept Tenants With Dogs?

A landlord recently asked the following: “Tenants in a two- bedroom house with a small yard wants a dog. They’ve been in there two years and are good tenants. I have never accepted dogs before, but I am considering it for these tenants. I have really mixed feelings on this as “no dogs” has been one of our mainstay rules. Any thoughts? ”
Several rental owners who currently accept dogs responded with what they considered important points to take into consideration: Here are some suggestions they shared:

  • Take the carpet out and install laminate flooring.
  • Require written evidence of current shots.
  • No aggressive animals.  Check your insurance carrier, to see if they have any breeds that they will not cover.
  • Landlord must meet and approve the animal before accepting it.
  • Dogs must be spayed or neutered!
  • No Puppies – (only 12 months or older).
  • No “first-time” dog owners.
  • Tenant must have renter’s insurance with liability coverage.

    NOTE:  Service dogs are legally not considered pets, so any additional “pet” fees or “no pet” restrictions would not apply. 

The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular www.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 www.LandlordingAdvice.com where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.