As a landlord, you should ask all potential tenants for a list of references. That said, checking in on your tenant’s references isn’t enough.
After all, there are those people that will set up fake references to gain your approval.
With 33.1% of property owners stressing about filling vacancies, it’s easy to see how rushing the tenant screening process can happen. This is especially true when it comes to reference checks. But if you’re looking to make a profit, you need to be strict about how you approve tenants for your San Diego rental.
If you need some ways to spot fake tenant references, you’re in the right place. Today we’ve gathered all the best ways to ensure your prospective tenant’s references are real, so you can get a true picture of what your tenant might be like while leasing from you.
How to Spot Fake Tenant References
There are three types of references you’ll want to check in with before approving a tenant for your rental property in San Diego. They are a personal, employer, and previous landlord references. To make sure you aren’t getting swindled by a possible problem tenant, it’s a good idea to follow these best practices to ensure your tenant’s references are real.
1. Interview the Tenant
Before checking in with any of your potential tenant’s references, you’ll want to interview the tenant first. This way, when you seek verification from the list of references, you’ll have the information your tenant provided on hand.
Here are some things to ask during a tenant interview:
- Where are you currently employed?
- What is your gross monthly income?
- What are your monthly debt obligations?
- What do you think your previous landlord might say about you?
- How would your friends describe you?
- By talking to your tenant first, you can get a quick glimpse into the type of person they are from the start. Plus, you can get a feel for how they might care for your property. Lastly, it will make finding any discrepancies easier.
2. Explain the Consequences of Fake References
Your prospective tenants should know from the beginning what the consequences are if they lie about their references. In other words, you should explain to your tenant that any fake references will result in an immediate rejection of their application.
By being upfront with your tenants, you’ll weed out some of the problems from moving forward in the process. It will also force most tenants to be more honest and add real references to their applications.
Lastly, being clear about the consequences for falsifying an application shows your tenants that you’re serious about leasing your rental and will not tolerate any problems.
3. Do Your Research
Before calling any references, conduct a little bit of research. Even something as simple as a Google search can reveal whether a reference is real or not. This is especially helpful when looking into a tenant’s previous landlord reference.
Just make sure you take everything you learn with a grain of salt. Even if there are some inconsistencies, it doesn’t necessarily mean your tenant is lying. Information may have changed, such as a business name or office location. If this seems to be the case, ask about it during the reference interview. If you notice anything suspicious at that time, then reconsider the applicant.
4. Always Call References (Don’t Email)
Creating a fake reference is easier to do on paper or in an email. Plus, reading a reference’s feelings about a tenant in writing can be tough.
If you really want to ensure your tenant’s references are real, give them a call. Talking to a person one-on-one will give you a better sense of what your potential tenant is really like. Plus, it will be obvious if the reference is fake when you give them a call.
To make sure your references are real, take advantage of Advent Property Management’s use of technology. With detailed payment histories available during the screening process, you can immediately see whether a reference (or tenant) is telling the truth about the past.
5. Ask Specific Questions
Another surefire way to help you discern between real and fake references when you call is to be very specific with your questions. Remember, just because someone answers the phone doesn’t mean they are a real reference.
When you talk to a potential tenant’s reference, ask questions that only a real reference will know:
- Previous Landlords: what type of license is needed to become a landlord, the dates the tenant leased from them, how much rent was being paid per month, and whether it was paid on time.
- Employer: what the tenant’s job title and duties are, their gross income, and how they perform.
When it comes to personal references, it’s harder to ask really specific questions. However, tuning in to the answers and making sure they aren’t vague and seem genuine will go a long way in your decision.
6. Ask for Pay Stubs
As a landlord, the only way you make money is to collect rent from your tenants each month. That’s why verifying employment, income, and employer references is so crucial.
Before you call your potential tenant’s employer, you might want to ask the tenant to provide copies of their last 3 months’ worth of paystubs. They can be used to verify employment and income. Plus, you can make sure your tenant can actually afford to pay the rental rate you’re asking for without any problems. This, paired with other background information such as a credit score can help you decide whether the tenant is a good candidate or not.
7. Ask the References for More References
There is no reason you can’t talk to more people about your prospective tenant before approving them for your rental.
One solid way to see if your tenant’s references are real is to ask a reference for another reference. This strategy is especially helpful when speaking to a tenant’s employer. For example, after speaking with the tenant’s boss, you might ask for the contact information of another employee that works closely with the tenant. If this information is available without hesitation, chances are the reference is real.
8. Hire a Property Management Company
An experienced property management company that knows the San Diego area will know how to handle tenants of all kinds – and their references. In fact, a reliable property manager will likely be able to handle tenant screening much better than anyone else, including you.
Hiring a local property management company to help with placing high-quality tenants in your rental property will ensure you the highest ROI and the best customer service. Plus, having a manager on hand that can easily spot fake references will guarantee that the tenant you place in your San Diego property is the person they say they are.
Need help managing your rental property? Then contact us today and see how we can help with tenant screening, reference checks, and so much more.
At Advent Property Management, we take on a smaller, more focused approach so you, your tenants, and your property get the attention that’s deserved. Using a strict and thorough screening process, we weed out the problem tenants right from the start. Not to mention, our detailed tenant screening reports come with payment histories. This helps you identify late rent payers from the start.
If you’re looking for stellar customer support, low-cost property management services, and the peace of mind that you have the best tenants possible leasing from you, we’ve got you covered. All you need to do is enjoy your investment property in San Diego and the profit it generates – we’ll do the rest.