Photo: Unsplash/Taylor Grote.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the screening process when filling your vacant property. Being thorough with your potential tenant’s references will go a long way to help with the decision-making process – and save a few headaches along the way.

When you next advertise your rental property on, ask for references from previous landlords and employers. Here are 8 reference questions to consider asking along the way:

Screening questions for a tenant’s current or past landlord

  1. Who were the occupants listed on the lease?
  2. How long was their tenancy?
  3. Did the tenant consistently pay the rent on time?
  4. Did the tenant maintain the property well? Were there any major damages or maintenance issues?
  5. Did the tenant have any pets?
  6. Did you receive any complaints from other tenants or neighbours?
  7. Why did the tenant leave?
  8. Would you rent to this tenant again? Why/why not?

Screening questions for a tenant’s employer

  1. Can you confirm that this person is/was employed at your company?
  2. Does he/she come to work on time?
  3. How do you enjoy working with the applicant?
  4. What are the average hours he/she works?
  5. What are the terms of their employment? Are they employed full time or on a contract?
  6. What is/was their position within the company?
  7. Have you ever needed to reprimand this person at work?
  8. Would you employ this person again? Why/why not?

Sometimes, a renter will offer you personal or character references to supplement their rental application. Some landlords don’t accept these references thinking they’ll be biased in favour of the renter, but they can paint a well-rounded picture of the applicant’s lifestyle and character. You could ask the following questions of a personal referee:

Screening questions for a tenant’s personal reference

  1. How do you know the renter?
  2. How long have you known them?
  3. How do they spend their spare time?
  4. Have you been to the renter’s home before? How would you describe it?
  5. Do they smoke?
  6. Do they have pets?
  7. Can you describe their overall character?
  8. Do you know their current relationship / marital status?

If you take your time to conduct detailed reference checks with a renter’s referees, you’ll usually be able to pick up on any red flags. It’s a small time investment to help mitigate any headaches down the track. Could you spot a problem? Don’t miss these 5 red flags.

Want to make the screening process even easier? Try RentCheck, a tool from that screens your potential tenants before they sign a lease. You can use RentCheck to screen potential renters, confirming items such as their tenancy database history, identity, court records, rental payment defaults and bankruptcy.