Is a poor previous landlord reference a deal-breaker?

Question

My potential tenant's references have all come through ok, but their previous landlord reference isn't great - should I trust this, or could it just be bad feeling from a landlord who's losing a tenant?

Answer

If you have had the opportunity to meet a tenant, through a viewing for example, it can be easy to build a relationship with them and imagine them living in your property.

With this in mind, it can often be difficult when a poor reference comes through, whether it is credit check, employee reference or a previous landlord reference.

Although it can be frustrating, and it is entirely at your discretion who you choose to let your property to, it is worth taking into account the way the tenant has behaved previously with other landlords before you move forward with an agreement.

A previous landlord check is designed to provide honest feedback on the way the tenant behaved throughout the duration of their tenancy, and should help you gauge if they are likely to be a good bet for your property.

The warning lights should start to flash if there are any notifications of:

  • Late payments/failure to pay rent
  • Damage to the property beyond the normal expected levels of wear and tear
  • Disruptive behaviours that caused upset to neighbours
  • Subletting without agreement
  • Finally, if the landlord says that they wouldn’t rent to the tenant again

It is unlikely that the previous landlord will have given a poor reference out of spite – they ill be accepting that they will be losing the tenant, and are likely to want
to assist with them moving on so they can secure a new person into their
property.

While it’s important to screen applicants to root out potentially problematic renters, don’t rely on their previous landlord as your primary source to vet the applicant. A thorough tenant screening also includes pulling a credit report, conducting a criminal background check, and requesting a reference from their employer.

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