What Questions Should DC Landlords Ask Tenant References?

What Questions Should DC Landlords Ask Tenant References?

When looking for a new renter for your income property in DC, having a screening process in place can help you find the best person for your unit.

Of course, you’ll have potential tenants fill out an application and list references. It’s your job to follow up with these references to determine if the tenant is a good fit for your property.

For potential occupants that meet the other requirements listed on your application and pass a background and credit check, you can move forward with getting in touch with their references. But what questions should DC landlords ask their tenants’ references?

Start With Their Employer and Ask These Questions

First, go ahead and verify the employment of your potential tenant. There’s little need to follow up with their previous landlords if they can’t afford the rent or aren’t employed. The applicant’s supervisor or a representative at Human Resources can verify the employment of your applicant, and you can ask these questions:

  • Are They Hourly or Salaried?

Find out if the applicant is an hourly employee—as well as their current pay rate—or salaried. Their supervisor or HR should be able to confirm the pay rate, which you can then use to determine if your potential tenant can comfortably afford your asking amount of rent.

  • What Is Their Position?

Confirm their position title with HR or their supervisor. Knowing exactly what they do at the job isn’t crucial, but it should align with what they listed on their application as well as their current income for said position.

  • How Many Months/Years Have They Been Working for You?

Ask how long the person has been employed with the company. If your applicant has just moved to the area for a new job, they may not have been employed for very long. However, have your applicant list their previous positions so you can see how often they change jobs.

Before hanging up, always get the name and contact information of the person you spoke with for your reference, and note the date of the conversation for your records for this particular applicant.

Follow Up With Former Landlords and Ask These Questions

If you verify their employment information and it aligns with what you’re looking for, you can then move on to speaking with the applicant’s former landlords and ask the following questions:

  • Did You Have Any Problems With the Renter?

This question leaves room for the previous landlord to identify any issues before you ask specific questions. If they can’t recall any particular problems, you can always ask:

  • Did they pay the rent on time?
  • Were there any lease violations?
  • Did they leave the property in good condition?
  • Were there any complaints from other renters?

These questions will let you know if the potential renter will pay the rent on time and abide by your lease terms, both of which are essential for a long-term successful tenant relationship for your DC property!

  • What Was the Nature of Their Departure?

You’re asking if the tenant left on good terms. Did they give notice as required by the landlord, pay rent until they moved out, and leave the property as they found it? You may also want to ask the landlord if their security deposit was returned, or if they needed to keep it due to damage to the property.

  • Would You Consider Renting to Them in the Future?

Whether or not the previous landlord would consider renting to the tenant again is an important question. If the landlord says no, you may want to take this as a warning and consider looking elsewhere for your new renters.

Need Help With Screening Tenants? We’re Here for You at FAS

Screening your tenants by following up with their references is an essential step in your approval process. References can provide invaluable information you wouldn’t otherwise be able to get about your applicants!

Don’t have a screening process, or keep ending up with troublesome tenants? We’re here for you at FAS Management. Contact us today to find out more about our professional property management solutions in DC at (202) 337-5080!


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