Calling Past Landlords To Verify Rental History + Recorded Calls

Welcome back,

Investors helping one another. Many investors perform some level of due diligence when screening potential renters or tenant-buyers, however few investors perform as thorough of a check as they know they could. We become lazy, complacent, and trust others are just as honest as us – many times they are not. Next time you screen a potential renter or tenant-buyer, make certain to verify rental history and rental experience with his/her previous landlords.

When performing due diligence on your renters or tenant-buyers do you…

  • Perform a 3rd party background check (state and nationwide)?
  • Check paystubs and W-2's? Verify sexual predator status?
  • Verify condition of applicants current home? (organized home = organized-type of person)
  • Call current boss(es) to verify work history?
  • Call past/current landlords to verify rental status and history?

Pro Tip: Aim to make your prospective applicants jump through many hoops while becoming approved. Listen for complaints, lies, victim mentalities, frustrations or sounds of giving up. You want an applicant that will fight for this home and understand the opportunity they are getting,assuming of course the home is a decent value and appropriately priced. If these applicants get tired of the application process they may not be satisfactory long-term renters or tenant-buyers.

You want to hear the GOOD, but more importantly the BAD & UGLY..

A background check does not show a person’s attitudes, mental stability, rental payment history, temper, or kindness. Speaking to a previous or current landlord can have you peering into your potential future working with this applicant. How the applicant deals with these landlord is likely how they will treat you and your investment home.

Related post: Your tenant stops paying, moves out and damages your property. Now what?

Before the call…

1. Mindset from you.

Eager to call landlords for personal and heart-felt references about your applicants. You have every right to make this request of your applicant and their previous/current landlords. You have nothing to fear. You are an investor that is approaching another investor for help, and possible friendship.

Pro-Tip: Aim to make calls to landlords in the beginning of your screening process. Some management companies are slow to reply and may take a few days.

2. Mindset from your applicant.

Most applicants will not oppose this request and everything will proceed normally. Some applicants may be hesitant to share previous landlord information with you in fear the landlord will fairly or unfairly provide a negative referral. Occasionally you may have a prospective renter or tenant-buyer that provides you with a legitimate reason they do not want to provide you with their past landlord’s contact information. Push through these applicant’s fears and collect the needed information to call the landlords. Some non-important reasons a landlord may be upset and provide a poor review of the applicant:

  • The landlord doesn't like foreigners.
  • The landlord doesn't like people coming home after 10pm.
  • The landlord doesn't like non-English speakers.
  • The landlord doesn't like people complaining about real issues.
  • The landlord doesn't like certain opposing political signs on the property.

In short, all the silly reasons above revolve around a controlling, over-protective, over-critical, unrealistic, emotional, unprofessional, or even racist landlord. When speaking to a landlord or management company aim to understand their professionalism and trustworthiness.

3. Get Permission.

A Release Of Rental History form is a separate form or a paragraph in your tenant application. This agreement gives you permission to ask questions about the applicant’s rental history from their past/current landlords. Some landlords and management companies require written proof the applicant agrees to their private information being shared.

Written consent from your applicant comes in many forms. A simple agreement signed by the applicant will do. If creating your own Release Of Rental History form, aim to include the following sections:

  • Renters personal identifying information (SS#, DOB, Drivers License #)
  • Previous property address and rental amount (Account for past 2 years)
  • Landlord's contact phone number and details.
  • A sentence naming you as authorized to ask questions about applicant.
  • Dates and Signatures of applicants

Download this Form: Release Of Rental History

Reality: Personal experience has shown that many landlords will not require any written-proof before answering your questions. By confidently stating the applicant’s name and why you are calling, many landlords will openly talk about these past/current tenants.

Pro Tip: Regardless if needed or not, obtain a signed Release Of Rental History form to keep in this applicant’s folder if approved.

4. Does this property address match this landlord? (optional)

Your applicants may be lying to you with regards to the phone numbers and contact details provided about their past landlords. Let us do some quick research to try to verify if ownership and phone numbers are correct.

Quick steps to [try to] verify ownership and phone numbers:

  • Step 1: Perform a reverse phone-number search using the phone number provided by the applicant on the Release of Rental History form. A website like http://www.whitepages.com will work fine for this task. Often times this search may come back without a name, only the location may be shown. However sometimes a name will be generated on this search. If a name is found, cross-check this name with the name provided by the applicant.
  • Step 2: Let us use your local government property appraiser or tax collector website to search for property information on these landlords. Aim to search by "property address" on your county/parish's local property appraiser or tax assessor website if available. Enter the landlord's rental property address provided by your prospective applicant on the Release of Rental History form and search for the owner's name and mailing address. Cross-check this landlord's name with the name provided by the applicant.

5. Understanding your questions:

Know what questions you are going to ask once a landlord or management company agrees to speak with you. Create a list of questions to ask and keep on file for this potential future renter or tenant-buyer. Ask objective questions that can be answered with either concrete numbers or yes/no answers.

If you do not have a list of questions, consider the following to start:

  • What were the dates when the tenant lived in your building?
  • What was their rent rate at that time?
  • Did they make all rent payments?
  • Did they ever pay late? (How many times and how late?)
  • Did you have to serve them with any notices?
  • Did you have to evict them?
  • Did you offer them a lease renewal?
  • Has the tenant given notice of their move? If they are breaking a lease, what sort of penalty will be assessed?
  • Did tenant observe all rules of the property?

Download this Form: Questions for Landlords When Screening Applicants

Pro Tip: Most investors grade their applicants on honesty, as well as their past history. For this reason, if someone lies about his/her history or omits major facts it may be prudent to pass on this applicant. Sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Making the call…

You: Hello. Is __(Landlord’s name)__ available?

Landlord: Who is this?

You: My name is __(Your name)__ and I’m a local real estate investor in the area. You do not know me but I was calling because I am working with a __(Applicant’s name)__ who claims to be a past tenant of yours at __(Address of rental property owned by this landlord. This address is listed on the Release of Rental Information form.)__. I was calling to hopefully get a reference from you concerning this past renter. If you do not feel comfortable answering a few simple questions I would happy to send you over a Release of Rental Information form first. Either way I just had a couple of questions for you. (wait for landlord to reply)

Landlord: 4 things may happen…

  • The landlord or management company will now permit you to ask questions.
  • The landlord or management company asks you to email/fax them the Release of Rental Information form signed by the applicant.
  • The landlord or management company ask you to call back when they are in the office.
  • You have the wrong number or a disconnected number.

Some landlords will be very professional and curt, while others will not stop talking about these past tenants and/or other issues in their life. Be polite, take notes, and ask follow-up questions. When speaking to a landlord or management company aim to understand their professionalism and trustworthiness.

Pro-Tip: Aim to make calls to landlords in the beginning of your applicant screening process. Some management companies or landlords are slow to reply and may take a few days to respond.

Making a friend & Asking for unwanted mobile home leads 🙂

Towards the end of this phone call try to get to know the landlord if possible. Asking questions like…

  • Have they been investing in real estate in the area long?
  • Is there anything you may do to help their business?
  • Any type of leads they are looking for?

Before you get off the phone ask the landlord if they ever come across unwanted mobile home seller leads. Mention you would love an opportunity to call these sellers to work these unwanted mobile home leads and provide a finder’s fee if able to close any. An approximate finders fee for mobile home inside a park may be $500 if you plan to resell via payments. If reselling for cash or bank financing perhaps a fee closer to $1000-$3000 is in order depending on potential profit.

Conclusion:

If you have not been making phone calls to verify past rental history of your prospective renters or tenant-buyers then please start doing so immediately. While most potential applicants are caring, hard-working and genuine folks – always treat potential applicants as risky until proven otherwise. Protect yourself and your property from unwanted headaches and dead-beat applicants that know just what to say to fool you into a disarmed and trusted attitude. Verify, Verify, Verify.

Love what you do daily,
John Fedro
support@mobilehomeinvesting.net

 

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12 Comments

  • Jake T

    March 26, 2017

    Hi John,

    First comment! What do it win? JK
    Im a new fan but am picking this up fast. I rent single family homes and I’ll admit I dont do this as much as I should or like really ever. Do you ask different questions to the landlords if you rent versus sell? Why would be call landlords if we are selling? I would like to rent if possible like with my family homes. Thanks for the help. I know Ill have more. Thanks again.

    Cheers!
    Jake

    • John Fedro

      March 27, 2017

      Hi Jake,

      Thank you for reaching out and connecting. As first commentor I will be happy to answer your questions and provide you with clear answers. With that said that’s deafly something I would’ve done no matter what comment you were. 🙂

      Please see my thoughts below in bold.

      Im a new fan but am picking this up fast. I rent single family homes and I’ll admit I dont do this as much as I should or like really ever. Congratulations for the deals and successes you’ve had thus far with regards to SFRs. I’ve no doubt that these deals do not come without hard work and daily effort on your part. Do you ask different questions to the landlords if you rent versus sell? No, not particularly. Either way I’m trying to get a sense of the things I cannot tell based on the traditional background checks. I’m trying to get an understanding of how seasoned this other investor is and how happy or just happy they were with my prospective tenant-buyer. Hearing how often they were late and how respectful they were is huge for me as well. Why would be call landlords if we are selling? We are selling on payments. If we were selling for all cash or bank financing that I agree it is not that important to call past landlords because we will not be having a long-term relationship with this buyer moving forward. I would like to rent if possible like with my family homes. Thanks for the help. I know Ill have more. Thanks again. Happy to help. Please know many mobile home parks will not allow rentals inside of their communities. They want the owner occupants living inside of the home. With that said there absolutely will be some mobile home parks that allow renting for sure. If you on the land you can also rent the homes as well. I hope this helps and starts to point you in the right direction. If you have any follow-up questions or concerns never hesitate to comment back or reach out to me personally. All the best.

      Talk soon,
      John

  • Sean Andrews

    March 27, 2017

    Hi John,

    Long time fan. Thank you for the free forms. These do help.

    SA

    • John Fedro

      March 28, 2017

      Hi Sean,

      Thanks for reaching out and connecting. Thanks for following along as well. If you have any specific questions or concerns about these forms never hesitate to reach out any time. With that said they are pretty self-explanatory. 🙂 All the best and keep in touch.

      Talk soon,
      John

  • Tammy

    April 10, 2017

    What you do when a buyer simply stops paying you? They threaten to damage your home and do not pay you? This is my biggest fear at the moment when dealing with people who will be paying me monthly for mobile homes. Thank you for all your help.

    Sincerely.
    Tammy

    • John Fedro

      April 12, 2017

      Hi Tammy,

      Additionally, thank you so much for your kind words. I do hope these articles and videos have been somewhat helpful to you thus far. With regards to your questions, these are both very popular and common questions. I had these questions to before dealing with hundreds of buyers and sellers over the past 15 years. Let me first say that there are many people that will value their priorities and their money more importantly than your priorities and your money. This means that when things are going well you will have no problem being paid, however if a job is lost or money gets tight most people may not step up to continue paying or even talk to you in a civilized manner to let you know they will not be able to pay moving forward. However I am happy to say that there are many good people that are hard-working and honest and looking to own a home that they can live in and raise their family. Please keep in mind that anyone you place into your mobile home will have a background check performed on them as well as a few other references to check in hoops for these potential tenant-buyers to jump through. With all of the said we go through a great deal of work to make sure the people we are placing in our homes have good histories and have money in savings to pay us a substantial move in fee one possible. These things help mitigate the risk of putting a hyper- wrist tenant-buyer into one of your properties.

      With all this said it absolutely sounds like you may be going through a situation where some tenants are bullying you currently? If this is the case that I encourage you to hire an attorney immediately. Attorneys and the police are on your side as long as you are in the right. If these tenants or tenant-buyers are not paying then they should be evicted from the home as soon as possible. These people are obviously not respecting you and I encourage you to not spend any more emotion or energy worrying about what to do with them. Simply move forward with the eviction process if at all possible, I mentioned this last part because I certainly do not know the paperwork you are using and if you will need to evict them versus remove them from the home some other way.

      I hope this helps and starts to point you in the right direction moving forward. These tenants definitely sound like they are angry and vindictive towards you for some reason. Perhaps they feel wronged or taken advantage of in some way. I mention this because in the past the only times I have had tenants who are mad are is when they feel taken advantage of or upset personally with me. Then they may take this out on the home. With that said please never hesitate to reach out any time with any follow-up questions or concerns moving forward. All the best.

      Talk soon,
      John

  • Daryl Barnes

    April 11, 2017

    John, have been checking out your info for awhile now. I live in 55 park and remodeled a 14×64 2b2b. I am care giver for my mom who has final stage of throat cancer. Have purchased another mobile on private property and wish to sell the one we are living in. Only one small problem we want to stay in unit until mom passes. We would greatly appreciate any suggestions.

    • John Fedro

      April 11, 2017

      Hi Daryl,

      Thank you for reaching out and connecting. I very much regret to hear about what you and your family are going through. I can’t even imagine, and don’t want to, what you and your mother must be going through. You explain the situation pretty well however is the park demanding that you leave in any specific time? Have they provided any legal papers to you at this point? Parks are generally pretty accommodating in situations like this. Let me know the problems and challenges you are facing and who is telling you that you must leave.

      Talk soon,
      John

      • Daryl Barnes

        April 11, 2017

        We don’t have to leave, park manager is good to us. I am asking you how to sell this mobile while we still live in it. I intend to move when mom passes.

        • John Fedro

          April 12, 2017

          Hi Daryl,

          Thanks for the quick reply. That makes sense. When you are selling to an end-user that will be moving in the home themselves to live and raise their family, they typically note the day or short timeframe they have in order to move into the property. They very likely do not want to have to move their home into storage and then remove all their stuff into your home once you sell. I say the words “very likely” because some families will be more flexible and for a “good deal” they will be willing to be patient in working with you. Assuming that you do find a buyer to purchase the home you can likely close on the home immediately and have a rental contract with them moving forward month-to-month. I can tell you that as a mobile home investor this is very common for us. We will purchase a home from a seller and allow them to remain in the property for weeks or months after until they are ready to leave. We do keep some of their capital out at closing until they finally leave the home clean and on time, but it does work out for all parties. However by selling to an investor you will not likely make as much is you will from an end-user, even if you are selling at a discount to the end-user because they’re happy to get a deal even though they have to be flexible on your schedule. I hope this all helps and starts to make sense. In short you will not know too much until you start advertising and marketing and talking to people. You can definitely explain the situation in the ad (especially if it’s a online ad with space to describe the home) when possible. Have a great rest of the week. All the best. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your mother. Keep in touch.

          Talk soon,
          John

  • James Setaro

    April 18, 2017

    Wow, I really love the actionable material you put together here for investors! Also, recorded calls are GOLD for training, because let’s face it everyone starts at zero. Why not here HOW others are already doing this and copy their questions and TONE.

    Well done.

    • John Fedro

      April 20, 2017

      Hi James,

      Thank you for reaching out and connecting. Additionally, thank you so much for your kind words. I totally agree, instead of telling people how to do it… Simply show them. I do hope this article and video was helpful to you in some way. Moving forward if you have any follow-up questions or concerns never hesitate to reach out any time. Additionally, if you have any future ideas for topics or articles please keep in touch as well. Have a great rest of the week. All the best.

      Talk soon,
      John