Monday, March 26, 2012

How to check references

We think we are pretty good at reference checking prospective tenants. I know we are, because we guarantee it. If we were no good, it would cost us too much to do such a thing. So, what do you need to know about reference checking?

1. Do it. The quick look up and down and judging a person by their handshake just doesn't cut it. Do call their referees and ask about them. Be suspicious if they don't give you any details, or have no one they can offer, or phone numbers are all wrong. They won't have been born yesterday, so don't act like you were. Everyone has a history, insist on delving into it.

2. Qualify the referees. How much weight should you attribute to different referees? They are not created equally. I'd attach more importance to what their landlord and employer have to say about them than their dear old Aunt.

3. Know what information you can get on-line about someone, and if there is any restrictions on using that information. For instance, know how to look up their Tenancy Tribunal history. Know how to do a credit check (and make sure you have consent to do so, or you may never be allowed to do another one again). Is Googling them useful?

4. Have some good questions to ask referees, and know how to verify information. Perhaps you ask the same question in different ways. Or keep the questions open-ended.

5. Do ask questions of the referees to verify they are really who they say they are 'so, how long have you owned the property? Have you seen much increase in value for you during this time? Why did you decide to buy it? - all these can be asked of 'landlords' to check they really own the property. Pretenders will soon fall flat on their face).

6. Watch for inconsistencies. Don't try to explain away anything that is contradictory. Find out the real story by asking them about it. E.g. 'You said on your application you don't smoke, but one of your referees said you do - can you explain please?'.

7. Listen to your gut, as well as your ears. Do you sense hesitancy? Holding back? Outright lying? Warning Will Robinson! Either ask them about it, or choose someone else.

Reference checking too subtle an art for you? To confrontational for you? If so, get someone else to do it, like the team at Rental Results Property Management. We pride ourselves on our tenant selection.

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