Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Three Important Lessons on Reference Checks

Checking References

One of the most critical functions when selecting a tenant is to determine to the best of your abilities the quality and character of the potential tenant interested in your property. The more information you can collect prior to admitting the tenant the better one can gauge the suitability and fit of the tenant.

Lesson #1 - - When a claim sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

Recently, a polite young woman came by to visit an apartment of mine. My suspicions about this person were raised early on when she stated that she would most certainly rent the apartment before even seeing it.

Nonetheless, I allowed her to come see the apartment. She liked it and decided to fill out an application with her work history and personal references. Below were tell-tale signs of her dishonesty.

  1. When I asked her follow-up questions regarding her application, she got agitated, rushed her speech and proclaimed “well, I have several other places I can chose from you know”
  1. The company at which she claimed to work at had no Internet search results returned.
  1. She did not leave a deposit which I make a requirement if folks are interested in renting and when they are given an application to fill.

Lesson #2 - -Be extremely vigilant about people and the information they provide

Despite the lack of deposit, I decided to do a little detective work to uncover my suspected untruths. After receiving an excellent reference from the person she had marked down as her boss, I asked one of my co-workers to visit the exact address of her place of employment on her application. It turns out that not only did business suite number not exist, but no such business was located at that particular building in downtown Montreal. I called the applicant back to reconfirm the address. She once again confirmed which led me to challenge her claims. At this, she got very agitated and exclaimed that she was at work and could not be bothered at this time. My decision was immediately made to reject this applicant.

Lesson #3 Credit Checks are critical

People with skeletons in their closet have reasons to hide this information. They may have had problems in the past meeting rent payments; they may not work, in summary, lacking the specific requirements you have set out. Avoid future headache by investing the time to research their history. Credit checks are very important as well. If a person has had issues paying relatively small credit card bills, there is a high likelihood they will have trouble paying rent.

Share your comments!


  1. Very well said I agree based on my just about 40 years of experience in this country.
    I agree 110 percent, I could share so many stories but you captured the essence in a beautiful way.
    Reference check is extremely important,you are absolutely right to get as much information as you can. We traced total dead beat and recovered money because this dude put his mother as reference. He lived in our property but walked away with fair bit.
    Low and behold after several years of failed efforts our agent finally got him at his mother's house and served him summons.
    We recovered our money to the last penny with interest. The judge told him to pay or face the other alternative? He brought the crisp ones same afternoon, he was in more rush to pay than we were to get it.
    I thought I share it,

  2. Popular scams.
    1. Fake phone number usually it is their friend's /relative phone number. Ask point this your phone number...for how long you have this phone number.....? etc this gives a hint.
    2. Fake employment,,,,ask for the last three pay stubs, do not rely on the job letter. One guy work for his brother's company and when I called they will send very nice job letters with no time on the fax. ( too good to believe and prompt)
    3. Always ask for at least two photo ids, one dude talk big but he could not produce driving license, still driving and his job description had extensive driving (traveling electrician fixing street lights)......Potential trouble
    4. Experienced landlord/landladies/property managers could catch the fraud within minutes. In most cases these fraud artists take off and they do not confront. They look for the next easy victim.
    5. In my beginning years we made so many mistakes we almost lost everything, then we vowed that we have to do very well in this game. We kept on improving the process still working on it..... Eventually one day we wish we could write a book on these episodes.