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

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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 rental history reports. 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?

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. 

Here are some common questions rental history reports will help a landlord answer to determine if the tenant is the right choice for their rental property:

  • Did they pay the rent on time every month?
  • Did they have good communication with past landlords?
  • Did they cause any issues with neighbors or the community?
  • Did they cause any damage to the previous rental?
  • Did they have to break a lease agreement?

Landlords can verify a tenant’s rental history through these questions and talking to past landlords. A landlord’s largest concern is nonpayment of rent and possible evictions which is why verifying rental history is essential. If you have more questions on why tenant screening is a necessity, visit here

What Landlords Need to Know about Rental History Reports

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. With TurboTenant, landlord references will automatically be requested from past landlords an applicant listed within their application. This short questionnaire will ask them to provide feedback about the renter and answer questions like:

  • 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?

If landlords do not fill out the reference form, you can always call them for a quick 15-minute conversation to ask them similar questions. 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.

Read here on how to add a cosigner to a lease – landlords should run the cosigner through the exact same tenant screening criteria to ensure rent will be paid on time.

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

Is a rental history report free?

Rental history reports, which include past landlord references and addresses, are typically included in the initial rental application a renter fills out – because it is information a renter can provide, it is not a separate fee. A rental application fee is $35 or $45 which is normally paid for by the renter.

What if renters do not want to provide their rental history with 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.


Taylor has been a Content and SEO Specialist with TurboTenant for two years where she curates helpful and diverse content to help landlords and renters. She has covered many industries and is an expert in the property management industry as well as the real estate tech space.

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