The Importance of Checking Tenant References

Seasoned property managers know the ups and downs of renting to tenants.  They know that sometimes renting can be hassle-free and highly profitable, while other times it can be a day-to-day struggle.  From nonpayment to property destruction to frivolous lawsuits, having the wrong tenants can be an ongoing nightmare.  How can property managers avoid the apparent crap shoot when it comes to finding reliable, respectful tenants?


One way is to be diligent about checking tenant references.  Surprisingly, some property managers in this day and age don’t even bother to ask for references, much less verify them.  This is a step in the tenant vetting process that cannot be skipped.  In some cases, checking references is the only way to learn that a prospective tenant has given you false or incomplete information.  There will also be instances in which the individual is of poor character, lack reliability, is known to abscond without notice, or has anger management issues.  A thorough references check can help you to avoid these problems beforehand.


The ideal references will be homeowners and/or property managers who currently rent or previously rented to the applicant.  If you are unsure about the identity of the person providing such a reference, you can confirm the property ownership with a local property tax office, which usually will have public records available.  It is best to check with the two most recent homeowners and/or property managers, at the very least.  When calling them, you’ll want to ask about whether there was any property damage, late or missed payments, or complaints from neighbors.  You should also inquire about whether the applicant had broken any stipulations of the lease/contract and whether any consequences had to be imposed.  Perhaps the best question of all is:  “Would you rent to this person again?”  If there is anything other than an immediate affirmation, consider it a red flag.


Other valuable references can include current and recent employers and other character references.  Employers are especially good sources of information because they can provide an idea of the applicant’s financial stability as well as his or her overall personality.  You’ll find that a dependable employee is, in many cases, a dependable tenant.  Close friends and relatives of the prospective tenant, on the other hand, might not be useful references because they are not necessarily objective sources; they might bend the truth as a personal favor to the applicant.


Sure, it requires some effort, but you’ll find that taking the time to check tenant references is extremely worthwhile.  We at Access Property Management know this because we specialize in all aspects of property management.  Eviction protection, detailed property inspections, fast owner payouts, marketing and accounting are among the services we provide at Access.  When you need expert property management in Grand Rapids, MI, you’ll want to contact Access Property Management at (616) 301-9450 or visit us at – it will be our privilege to serve you.

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Justin Bajema

Justin Bajema, CPM® is the Founder & President of Access Investment Group, LLC and Access Property Management Group, LLC. His love for everything Real Estate and business began with one book back sent to him while he was returning back from the war in Iraq in 2003, "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki. Justin is a proud U.S. Marine combat veteran who served 2 tours in Iraq as an infantryman. He received the Purple Heart from Commander in Chief President George Bush for his wounds received in action while serving with the 24th MEU in Iraq. Justin Bajema, | Founder & President