11 ways to verify a landlord reference when vetting tenants

Never be caught by a phoney landlord again

To make certain you get good tenants and not the tenant types that all landlords should avoid, it’s essential that your tenant vetting processes are exceptional. You’ll need to run a number of background checks, including checking on prior tenancies. A tenant who has previously defaulted on rent caused damage to property or been evicted is more likely to be a nightmare for you. History doesn’t lie.

An applicant who has a poor record as a tenant is likely to want to hide the fact. If you found out the truth, you’d never let to them. They know this. Thus, they are likely to give you a fake landlord reference.

Who could be a phoney landlord?

Usually, a tenant to avoid will enlist the help of family or friends to provide fake references. However, there are also scam companies that provide scam references for a fee. It makes the job of detecting the phonies a little more difficult, and far more important.

Here are 11 ways in which we verify that we’ve been given a real landlord reference and not a phoney.

1.    Pretend you’re a tenant looking for a property

Pose as a potential tenant, interested in renting a property. You’ll either be told you have the wrong number or be greeted with a confused, bumbling conversation. You might even try booking an appointment to see them. If they are fake, they’ll avoid a booking, or phone to cancel just before you are due to meet.

2.    Use the power of social media

Search the tenant applicant’s social media accounts to see if there is a connection, and what that connection is. If the ‘landlord’ is tagged in personal updates, it’s probable that they are more than a ‘mere’ landlord.

3.    Be suspicious of vague answers

Phoney landlords often give vague answers. They may try to avoid providing exact dates of tenancy or other details you request.

4.    Be suspicious of detailed answers

On the other hand, a phoney landlord may overplay their hand, providing you with information only a friend would know. Think about it: no matter how good your landlord/tenant relationship is, it’s unlikely that you’ll know what school their kids go to or what their favourite music is.

5.    Ask for tenant verification details

Good landlords keep tenant details on file. Ask for a few. Details such as moving-in date, rental amount, dates of rental increases, and your applicant’s date of birth. Of course, it may be that the landlord is just a shoddy record keeper; but if you get a similar response from another reference, then you may have been furnished several phoney landlord names.

6.    Check phone numbers

Check the phone numbers that you have been given against the landlord’s or letting agent’s website. Cross-reference with directory enquiries, and use an online reverse phone number checker, too.

7.    Always use a landline

Always ask for a landline number. Expect to get through to a receptionist first.

If the landlord has let directly to the tenant and doesn’t have a landline, use the strategies above to weed out the phoney reference.

8.    Always call the number on the website

If the phone number you have been given doesn’t match the one on the letting agent’s website, always call the advertised number. The same applies for private landlords – look up their number and call that. Always ask why the tenant has provided a different number – and ask the reference to tell you that number.

9.    Call the landlord’s bluff

This is a great strategy but does need you to know what you are talking about. Most landlords are very happy to help others. Ask the reference for their advice about an unrelated matter. Perhaps you have a tenant you need to evict and aren’t sure how to go about it (you can make this up). If the reference can’t provide accurate information or advice, the chances are they are a phoney.

10. Call the landlord’s bluff again

Another way to weed out a phoney is to provide inaccurate information about the tenant applicant; for example, the wrong moving-in date. A real reference will correct you. A phoney is more likely to question themselves and agree with you, thinking that they have made a mistake or remembered dates wrongly.

11. Trust your gut instinct

Finally, trust your gut instinct. Though the likelihood is that if you have used the previous 10 strategies then it is no longer gut instinct, but an informed decision.

These 11 ways to verify a landlord reference aren’t the only strategies you could use. But we aren’t likely to give away all the secrets that make us exceptional at vetting tenant applicants, are we?!

Call Ezytrac and benefit from effortless property management on  +44 0 1522 503 717  and discover why we are one of the UK’s fastest-growing national investment property managers.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

By | 2018-07-30T10:31:52+00:00 August 9th, 2018|Landlord lessons, Property Management, Tenant Management|0 Comments

About the Author:

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Ezytrac. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.