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Why Checking Rental History during Screening is Important?

As a landlord, you can learn a lot about the rental history of any prospective tenant through their rent references. When you screen a tenant, it is very important to check the report on rental history along with their employment status, credit history, and income. It is a known fact that it is better to avoid a tenant if they have a history of frequent evictions and property changes.

For a detailed check on rental history, you should ask the prospective tenant about their previous rental stays and landlords. It does a bit tricky to check the rent references of a tenant. In some cases, the landlord can be giving out a good reference for their tenant just to get rid of them due to any reason. At other times it may become extremely difficult to find out about the tenants when they don’t have any rental history at all. Tenants may have a valid reason to change properties often.

It is an agreed fact that verifying the rental history of a prospective tenant is vital for the administration of the property. The question is how will one confirm that the applicant is good enough for them to accept them as a tenant? Below, we will explain how to understand a rental history report.

What is meant by a rental history report?

This is a report containing the housing history information of a tenant. The other information in this report is the present address and contact information of the property owner. The report must have a couple of prior addresses of the tenant as well. Late rent payments, eviction, and rent debts records should also be present in this report—because you might need them while making a decision about renting your property.

Checking the rental history report of a tenant

It is important to check the rental history report, income, and credit score of a tenant. If you run a comprehensive check on a prospective tenant, you can ensure on-time rent payment and care of your property. But if you don’t pass the tenant through thorough checking, you might regret it later as it can get difficult to evict a bad tenant. You can follow the following steps in order to check a tenant’s rental history.

1. Start the report using pre-screening questions

The process of rental authentication starts as soon as you get in touch with the potential tenant. You should check the laws of your state as well as Fair Housing Laws before talking to the tenant. It will help you know which questions you can ask a potential tenant.

Generally, you would get to know the following:

• For how much time have they been living at their present address

• Why are they moving

• If they will submit a rental application and permit you to run a background check

• If they are ready to give references from past employers and landlords

• If they have been expelled from a prior property

It is useful for you to ask questions from the rental application when you get in touch with the potential tenant. This will help you compare the information provided on the rental application with the one you got by getting in touch with the tenant directly or from previous landlords.

2. Build a rental history report by using the rental application process

This rental application form contains information on the prior and present addresses of the potential tenant. The detailed information must include the contact information of the property owner and the dates on which the tenant occupied the property. You should also make sure that you get permission to contact former landlords or rental property owners.

3. Check the rent references

If you get permission to check the rental history of the tenant, you will have to contact a lot of places to validate the information provided. This is a vital part and should not be skipped because you can get stuck with a bad tenant with one mistake. This opportunity can be used to check how the tenant has treated the property while living there. Open-ended questions are also a way to go at this point in order for you to get a better understanding of the tenant’s behavior. One thing you can check before contacting the landlord is to confirm the contact information of the property owner shared with you. A tenant might give the contact information of a friend who would pose as the previous landlord. Running a thorough check on your potential tenant is key to finding mental peace for a long time.

4. Confirm facts with the tenant

There is a possibility that the tenant has stated something in the application which is not verified by the references you checked. If that is the case, you need to do a thorough check on the inconsistencies. You can find out if the tenant made a mistake or did this on purpose. A potential tenant can mislead you to believe information just to get the deal. You need to be quite vigilant about such occurrences. Take feedback from at least three prior property owners to get a clear idea about the prospective tenant.

Online services for rental history

There are some property management applications available online which can be used to check the background of tenants. These background checks include rental history. You can use these apps to make a profile of rental payment history; however, these can also be used to check employment history, credit history, eviction history, and criminal history.

Why rental history is important

Rental history matters because it helps in getting an idea about your potential tenant. You can easily find out if the tenant was regular in their rent payments, or if they took care of the previous rental property. You can know how the tenant will behave while occupying your property by looking at the rental history report. However, there is more to the screening process than just a rental history report. Some more things like the bank statement or the employment history can help you in determining the affordability of the prospective. You can easily find out their behavior as a credit payer by checking their credit history.

What happens if there is no rental history on the tenant?

Sometimes a potential candidate for a tenant might not have a rental history. If that is the case, you can run a typical rental background check. This not only helps you in finding out if the tenant is suitable for your rental unit. What you can do is, as for further references, employments history, and their pay slips. Pay close attention to their conduct when you ask them questions to ensure that you choose the perfect renter for your property. First-time renters can prove to be good in the long run if you can authenticate their credit history and income. It is a good idea to ask for a co-signer for your rental agreement if you are not sure about the potential tenant.


The most important part of the tenant screening procedure is to check the rental history. Running a thorough check on the rent references and income statements of the prospective tenant is also vital in making a decision about who to rent your property to. The rental process may take some time and extra effort but you can ensure stress-free rental earnings by this. If you do the background work for choosing a tenant, it saves you time, energy, and resources in the future. You know that your property is in safe hands and you will get a steady regular income as a landlord.

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Justin Brennan

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