What Are Rental History Reports? A Landlord and Renter’s Guide

Most renters and landlords are familiar with what a tenant screening report is – a background, credit, and eviction history check. However, something that’s often overlooked is the rental history report. After landlords screen their renters and applicants pass their screening report criteria, it’s always a good idea to do some additional screening, which includes a rental history report.

If you’re a first-time renter or a landlord new to the screening process, keep reading so we can guide you through what a rental history report is, why it’s important, and what to expect.

What is a Rental History Report?

A rental history report is a list of a prospective tenant’s past landlords and addresses. You might think it’s unnecessary to provide a rental history report if a landlord already received a screening report. While a tenant screening report gives the hard numbers and facts about a renter, a rental history report will help bridge the gap to knowing how the tenant actually is as a renter. A tenant may look perfect on paper after the initial screening report with a great credit score, no criminal background, and no evictions, but rental history reports will help a landlord gain insights into their behavior and get to know the renter better. 

How To Check Rental History

As a landlord, you probably know that screening your tenants is important to protect your rental investment – rental history reports are an additional tool for you to speak to other landlords and possible roommates of a tenant so you can be completely confident in who you rent to. After you have read a tenant’s screening report, it’s time to verify their rental history.

Make sure you ask for at least three previous rental addresses along with their previous landlord’s contact information. This request is usually included in the rental application

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to interview your applicant’s former landlord! Here’s a list of questions to ask former landlords to help you find your next tenant.

  • Would you rent to them again?
  • Did they comply with the lease terms?
  • Did they pay on time?
  • Did they leave the property well maintained?

Calling landlord references can also help you determine if things like a low credit score are not indicative of how they are as a renter and paying rent.

What if a Renter Has No Rental History?

If you are a new renter, or if you are a landlord renting to a younger person, they might not have a rental history – don’t worry. Just because someone has never rented before should not disqualify them from the process. Renters can explain their situation to a landlord and provide things such as proof of employment and pay stubs while also being prepared to have a cosigner.

For guidance on adding a cosigner to a lease, which includes the importance of landlords conducting the same tenant screening criteria to ensure timely rent payments, click on this detailed resource.

Verifying an applicant’s rental history is one of the best indicators in the tenant screening process for landlords to know if a renter will be the right pick. For renters, building strong communication with past landlords will not only help you as a current renter but also when you decide to move to a new rental and need to provide landlord references. 

Rental History Reports FAQs

What if renters do not want to provide their rental history to their landlord?

Since landlord references will be listed in the rental application, if a tenant does not fill it out or refuses, this could be a potential red flag. If you have several other applicants who have provided references and passed your tenant screening criteria, they might be a better fit. 

What can a landlord ask previous landlords when verifying rental history?

Landlords or a landlord reference form will ask general questions about how a renter was. For example, if they paid rent on time, if they caused issues with neighbors, and if they were a good tenant overall. Landlords need to steer clear of questions and comments that would discriminate and violate Fair Housing laws.

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