Call me old fashioned, but meeting an applicant personally and going off ‘gut instinct’ goes a long way for me when choosing the successful applicant because ultimately, a landlord who trusts you will ask for your opinion.
Blogger: Sarah Lathman, Latham Cusack Property Services
Don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly reference check any potential tenant who submits a Tenancy Application Form, but when you have a selection of people who have all applied for the same property, I find that I tend to lean towards an applicant who has been courteous and polite to deal with, as well as being respectful of the property whilst viewing it.
The clincher however, are those super organised people who have completed their application forms thoroughly and provided me with copies of their 100 points of identification. There’s nothing worse than having to chase people for missing phone numbers or information. These simple things can give you a preview of what they will be like during the tenancy.
Before submitting any tenancy application to your landlord, you should be reference checking the following;
1. Confirming current employment details.
Make sure your tenant has provided you with details such as their salary, position in the company, whether it’s a full-time or part-time position and how long they’ve been there. I also Google the company and attach any relevant information to the application form. Some owners like to know what the company does.
If the applicant has only been at their current place of employment for less than 6 months, reference check their previous details also.
2. Current and previous rental history.
This is more than just confirming rental amount and if there have ever been any arrears. Ensure you receive a copy of the tenant’s ledger. Ask their property manager if there have ever been any disputes with the tenant, either at the CTTT or otherwise? Do they know that the tenants are planning to move and if so, do they know why?
How long have they lived there? What rental do they pay? Did they pay rent increases when they fell due? How were the periodic inspections? If the applicant has a pet, ensure you ask specific questions in relation to any pet damage at the property. Finally, the ultimate question, would they rent to them again?
3. Database reference checking.
As far as I’m aware, the two main ones are TRA (Trading Reference Australia) and TICA. There are others around, although I personally haven’t used them before. I’ve used TRA for around 10 years now and like all databases there is an annual fee to subscribe, but it’s money well spent. Conduct your search and ensure you input all the particulars that should be on the Tenancy Application Form. Where the tenant is not listed, print out two copies of the search results, sign and date it. Keep one copy with the Application form and the other should be sent to the owner with a copy of the lease agreement.
Failure to carry out stringent reference checking means you are not complying with your duty of care to your landlord and leaving your office exposed to litigation. It can also leave you with a sour tenancy and a future headache for you as the property manager.
If you are ever unsure about proceeding with an application based on reference checking or your property manager’s ‘instinct’, discuss it with your owner and let them have the final say. Just be sure to record your conversation and/or confirm their decision in writing to cover yourself down the track.
About Sarah Lathman
Sarah has over 20 years’ experience in property management on Sydney's Lower North Shore. She previously managed a large property management department for eight and half years until mid last year when she made the decision to team up with an ex-colleague of hers, Jaala Cusack, and open her own boutique property management business called Latham Cusack Property Services. Based in Cremorne, they manage properties along the Lower North Shore. Their main focus is to offer a more personalised and proactive style of property management – one dedicated to listening to and meeting their clients’ individual needs.