Why Rental History Is Important to Know as a Landlord

Why Rental History Is Important to Know as a Landlord

Landlords have detailed application and screening processes in place in order to ensure that they entrust their rental property to the best possible tenants. Though a tenant who looks great on paper could still cause issues at some point over the span of your lease agreement, there are several ways that landlords can protect themselves from entering into rental contracts with problem tenants. 

One of the most significant ways that a landlord can do this is with a thorough review of each applicant’s rental history.

What Is Rental History?

A potential tenant’s rental history is a list of a few key pieces of information regarding where and when they’ve rented property before. Some of the basic details included within rental history are:

  • Previous address or addresses
  • Previous landlords’ names and contact info
  • Previous property managers’ names and contact info

Depending on the individual, rental history may span decades or just a few years. Generally, landlords don’t need more than a few years of rental history to peruse in order to make a decision about an applicant, but it’s important that the history be as recent as possible.

What If a Potential Tenant Has Gaps in Their Rental History?

As you’re perusing a potential renter’s history, you may find that there are gaps present where it doesn’t appear that they were under any lease agreements for a time. 

There could be many reasons for this; perhaps they were living with family or friends in a situation where it wasn’t necessary for their name to be on a lease. However, if your prospective tenant is unforthcoming about the reason for this gap, you should consider this a red flag and be very hesitant to rent your property to them. 

If you are heavily considering a tenant, but they have a gap in their rental history, this shouldn’t be the sole reason not to rent to them, especially if they have other good qualities to offer. Recommendations from previous landlords and a great credit score could heavily outweigh a gap in your prospective tenant’s rental history.

Things to Look for in an Applicant’s Rental History

On its face, rental history doesn’t give you all that much detail about the quality of a potential tenant. There’s only so much information you can glean from knowing where your tenant lived and for how long, so it’s important to contact your tenant’s previous landlords and other references to learn a bit more about their trustworthiness.

Timely Payments

As a landlord, making sure your tenants pay their rent on time each month is one of your biggest priorities. Do your best to find out whether your potential renter was timely with their payments. 

A few late payments here and there may not be cause for disqualification, but if they were consistently late or even missed payments altogether, this is a red flag worth taking note of.

Property Upkeep

Paying rent and utility bills on time is an important quality in a great tenant, but if you come to the end of your lease agreement only to find that your property has been left in disrepair, you won’t be able to consider that tenant a good one any longer. 

Find out whether your prospective tenant took good care of the properties they rented before, if they were responsible about reporting issues, and if they followed the landlord’s directions regarding upkeep.

Communication Skills

Poor communication can turn a decent relationship between tenant and landlord into a strained one, creating unnecessary stress for you. 

Good communication skills should be a major factor for you when choosing the next renter for your property, as a tenant with these skills will be more likely to report problems as soon as they arise rather than waiting on them until they become much worse.

Security Deposit Return

The amount that each landlord charges for their tenant’s security deposit at the beginning of a new lease agreement will depend on a variety of factors. However, most security deposits are returned in full unless the tenant has done significant damage to the property or broken the contract in another way. If a prospective tenant was denied the return of their security deposit, they are likely to be a high-risk tenant for your property.

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