Screen Renters

The Art And Science Of Checking Tenant References


While many rental applicants look great on paper, those applications won't tell you if the renter will miss rental payments, have unruly pets, or damage your property. The truth is the most effective predictor of a renter's future behavior is through their past actions. That's where strategically checking potential tenants' references comes into play.  

How To Contact References

It's not uncommon for potential tenants to have friends or family members pose as former landlords or employers. So when you begin to check references, it's vital that you verify all of the reference's information in addition to contacting them about the renter's application. 


Types Of References

Ideally, you want to contact at least three references per tenant applicant. Former landlords and professional references provide the most helpful information. But preferably, a tenant's references will come from 3 sources:

  • Previous landlords,
  • Employer references, and
  • Personal references.

Previous Landlords 

Talking with an applicant's landlord is one of the most helpful tools in the screening process. While screening, you don't want to limit your reference check to the tenant's current landlord. Ask for reference information from at least one other landlord as well. Reach out to these landlords and ask some form of the following questions:

  • Did the tenant make rent payments made on time and in full? 
  • Describe how the tenant maintained the property? 
  • How did the tenant interact with neighbors? and
  • Would you rent to this tenant again?


Employer References

Speaking with a potential tenant's employer can give you insight into the renter's ability to pay rent throughout the lease term. You'll want to ask about the applicant's: 

  • Original date of hire,
  • Current salary or hourly rate,
  • Tenant's future employment prospects with the company, and
  • Tenant's relationship with colleagues.

Personal References

Personal references such as friends and family members can give you more insight into a potential tenant's character and personality. You'll want to ask questions like: 

  • How long has the reference known the applicant?
  • How would they describe the applicant's character and personality? and
  • If they were a landlord, would they rent to the applicant too?


Sorting through applicants for your rental property can be an arduous process. Screen Renters can do the screening for you, from start to finish. Set up your free landlord account and get started.