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Questions to ask Previous Landlords

If you’re looking to get good tenants, then you need to do your homework. So many times I’ve heard of landlords who ended up with bad tenants, and when they checked into it they found that the people had a history of bad reputation based on previous locations that they rented out.

Don’t look at previous landlords on a rental application as verification alone – call them up and talk to them about the tenant. Be sure to examine their history clearly to make sure that they haven’t missed any landlords out(common if they have had problems with a landlord).

When I call up a landlord to ask about a previous tenant, I always ask the following questions:

When did the tenant move in or out?

I want to make sure that the tenant is being entirely truthful in their application. It’s common for a tenant to make a mistake and put “July 2009” when they meant “August 2009” – however I want to make sure that my tenant hasn’t omitted any previous stays at a location. A tenant may “expand” a “good stay” if they had a “bad stay” at another location. So I want to make sure everything related to that is truthful.

Did the tenant meet the rent deadlines?

An obvious one – I want to know whether or not the tenant met the deadlines set for rent payment. If the rent payments were late, I want to know. I also want to know whether there was a “grace period” of no penalty, and if so whether or not the tenant abused that policy often.

Was the tenant considerate of neighbours?

This is a very important question to ask – you want to make sure that the tenant respects their neighbours just as much as they respect their property. One of the biggest hassles for a landlord is complaints from fellow neighbours about your tenant.

Did the tenant give notice in time?

Every contract comes to an end, and when it comes to an end I want to make sure that I don’t set myself up for any headaches. By knowing that the tenant followed all the procedures when it came to giving notice and leaving the property, it will save any potential hassle down the road.

What condition did they leave the property in?

It’s good to get specifics on how they left the property, so you can be prepared for when they leave. You want to know if it was in adequate condition and required a little upkeep and cleaning, or if they left the property in a position where it could be turned around and rented immediately. You of course also want to know if they left the property in a bad condition.

Do you have anything to add?

This is the most important question for me. Sometimes when it comes to direct questions, you will get a rather vague or simplified answer. By asking the previous landlord an open-ended question, you are often able to find out more information than from all the other questions put together.