March 27, 2018
Make the Call: Why Landlords Should Contact Employers for Tenant Background Checks
Rental income is the foundation of the property management business. It’s essential that you keep it stable and secure. The best way to achieve that is by performing tenant background checks to properly screening prospects to ensure they’ll make good tenants – and that they’ll make good on their rent payments.
Many property managers collect references from their applicants, including past and current employers. The trouble is, not all property managers follow up. Don’t make that mistake with your business.
No matter how good a potential resident might look on paper, you can’t assume that they’ll respect your rules, take care of the property or pay their rent on time.
So what’s the answer for property managers? Do your due diligence. Contact applicants’ employers to find out what kind of person each prospect really is and whether they’re someone you want living on your property.
Secure the Vitals: What Every Landlord Needs to Know
Here are the top three items you should cover when conducting a background check with potential tenants’ employers:
Verify employment. Start with the basics. Find out whether the applicant really does (or did, in the case of past employers) do the job they say they do. Rather than simply calling the number your applicant provided, you may want try contacting the employer through the company’s main business line to confirm that it’s a legitimate organization. Once you reach the employer, make sure the dates and responsibilities line up with what the potential renter indicated in their application.
Confirm income. You need to know whether potential tenants can afford to pay their rent – now and in the longer term. For current employers, find out if the prospect’s job is full-time, part-time or contract-based. And try to verify whether their salary or payment matches what they indicated on their rental application. You may need a release-of-information form from the applicant before their employer will confirm income.
Use them as a character witness. Ask the employer what kind of employee your applicant is or was. Are they punctual, respectful, reliable? The prospect’s attendance, performance and on-the-job behavior are all great indicators of what kind of tenant they’ll make. (Bonus tip: When talking to past employers, it’s a good idea to ask why the applicant left their job. If their departure was contentious, you should find that out before approving their lease.)
Heed the Warnings: What to Avoid in Potential Tenants
When certain red flags come up during a background check, don’t look the other way. Even if you’ll save time in the short term by quickly filling up your units, it will cost you much more in the long run if you’re stuck with an undesirable, delinquent tenant.
Take it seriously if a background check with an applicant’s employer reveals any of the following:
Dishonesty. You want trustworthy tenants. If you find that a prospect lied about their job title, responsibilities or salary, or how long their employment lasted, it’s a good bet that they’ll continue deceiving you after they move in.
Fraudulent behavior. Even worse than fudging the details on an application is when prospects provide completely bogus references. Most tenants won’t go to this extreme. But if they do, you could be looking at a professional tenant – someone who knows the system well and can drag out the eviction process for months, sometimes years. When you’re dealing with a professional tenant, the costs can run high, ranging from lost rent and productivity, to legal fees. Make sure this doesn’t happen on your property. Verify that all employment references are legitimate.
Negative feedback. If the employer provides a less than flattering reference, pay attention. The applicant may not even be aware of their poor performance, attitude or attendance at work. But if someone who knows them thinks it’s worth warning you off, don’t take it lightly. Hold out for the applicants who receive glowing reviews.
How Property Vista Helps
At Property Vista, we provide intelligent, state-of-the-art credit check protocols. Our system uses a leading-edge algorithm to analyze factors such as credit score, debt, income and required rent. In a matter of seconds, you can accurately assess applicants, co-applicants and guarantors, enabling you to make informed leasing choices.
If you’d like to reduce vacancies, and attract and retain top quality tenants, all while improving your cash flow and bottom line, we can help. Learn more about our suite of property management software!