Providing Tenant References

Everything you SHOULD say when giving tenant references

Every landlord should gather referrals as part of their tenant screening process. So, what should you say if another landlord contacts you to give a reference for a previous tenant? Have you ever wondered if there are limitations to what you can legally disclose?

Rest assured there are no privacy laws limiting what a landlord can or can’t disclose about a previous tenant. You can say anything you wish. However, our advice is to stick to the facts and only give information that you can support with written proof so that your former tenants won’t accuse you of slander. For example, you shouldn’t say the tenant “was weird” or “might have a drinking problem” if you cannot support the claim with actual evidence.

If giving a tenant referral, we suggest sticking to the following points and providing examples of reasonable proof:

Did the tenant pay rent on time? If the answer is “no,” make sure you have records of late notices or penalty charges.

Did you have to keep the security deposit because tenant damaged the property? If so, make sure you documented the damages with photos and receipts of repair costs.

Did the tenant give proper notice to vacate? Provide the terms of your lease agreement, and proof of when the tenant actually notified you of when they were moving out (or date they vacated if no notice was given).

Tenant referrals are important to every landlord, so if called upon, consider what information you would value about persons living on your rental property. Then, do your due diligence and help a fellow property owner by providing honest, thoughtful information to help keep bad renters from happening to good landlords.

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