Critical Questions to Ask A Renter’s Personal References

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As a landlord, getting high-quality tenants into your rental homes is crucial to your income, the growth of your business, and keeping your residence in tip-top shape to maximize its value for years to come. The key to reaching these goals depends on you getting to know your potential tenants, however — and doing so before you make the mistake of leasing to a subpar one. This requires learning more about their specific backgrounds and credit histories as well as who they are as people, something you can accomplish by figuring out interviewing their past landlords. 

Here’s your guide to finding the best tenants for your rental property, plus the questions you need to ask an applicants’ personal references.

What Does a High-Quality Tenant Look Like?

Everyone knows a good tenant is one who pays their rent on time, but there are still other attributes that differentiate a truly high-quality tenant. This is important because you do not want a tenant who damages your property or has unruly guests over at all hours of the night — even if they do pay their rent on time. 

To find that high-quality tenant, you want to focus on finding an individual with the following personal characteristics:

  • They treat your property well. 
  • They have a solid overall work ethic.
  • They bring in a stable income or have steady employment.
  • They are clean and organized.
  • They are prompt with requesting maintenance (especially if forgoing it would cause further damage).
  • They are kind and courteous to neighbors.

One aspect to keep in mind is that “high-quality” does not mean high-maintenance. Yes, you want someone to react promptly and let you know when there is an issue, but you do not want a tenant who overreacts or demands special treatment. Luckily, you can figure out precisely who your tenant is by implementing specific tenant screening protocols. 

What Goes into Tenant Screening?

Before deciding on any tenant, a landlord must first ensure that an applicant’s paperwork is honest and accurate. The tenant screening process will help verify the following four things:

  1. Income and Employment
    To validate whether a tenant can pay the rent, a landlord will often check a tenant’s income and employment. They either do this by calling a tenant’s place of employment and speaking with human resources or by requesting a reference letter from a tenant’s employer verifying their income, work experience, and work history.
  2. Rental History
    A tenant’s rental history will provide a landlord with a full picture of past behavior. This can help the landlord make informed decisions about whether they can offer the tenant a lease or might be better advised to pass on them.
  3. Criminal History
    A criminal history can help verify that the tenant is not someone who can put a landlord’s neighborhood or property at risk of theft or violence.
  4. Credit History
    Credit history is a great tool that a landlord can use to assess a tenant’s ability to pay rent. Good credit can show that the tenant has a history of paying bills on time and will be a less risky option, for example. 

Employment and background checks are almost always used to confirm all this critical information. These checks look into a tenant’s background and verify the following:

  • Does the tenant have any judgments or liens against them?
  • What do the tenant’s credit reports look like?
  • Is the tenant on the sex offender list? 
  • What is the tenant’s eviction, employment, and criminal history?

Basically, these reports will provide the landlord with a clear picture of who their potential tenant actually is before agreeing to the rental. 

Questions to Ask a Personal or Professional Reference 

Besides conducting the necessary background checks, a landlord also needs to call a potential tenant’s personal and professional references. These reference checks will provide the landlord with the opportunity to learn more about their tenant from outside sources. 

The following questions are a great way to corroborate a tenant’s information:

person asking other person a question

Screening Questions for Tenant’s Current or Past Landlords

  1. What can you tell me about the tenant?
  2. Did the tenant pay on time or in the right amount?
  3. Did the tenant abide by the rules of the lease and any move-out rules?
  4. Did the tenant take care of your home and yard?
  5. Were there any complaints made against the tenant? 
  6. How much work did you have to do to get it ready for the next tenant?
  7. Were there any red flags?
  8. Would you lease to the tenant again?

Screening Questions for Tenant’s Current or Former Employers

  1. Does the tenant work at your company?
  2. Are you the tenant’s previous employer? 
  3. What is the tenant’s salary?
  4. When was the tenant hired? 
  5. What are the tenant’s job title and job description? 
  6. What are the terms of the tenant’s employment?
  7. How is the tenant’s job performance? 
  8. Can you provide some specific examples of why you like working with the tenant? 
  9. Has the tenant ever had issues at work or been reprimanded?

Screening Questions for Family Members, Co-Workers, or Significant Other

  1. How do you know the tenant?
  2. How long have you known the tenant?
  3. How do you describe the tenant’s current or previous home or apartment?
  4. Does the tenant have pets or smoke?
  5. What is the tenant’s overall character?

Each of these questions helps you to learn more about who the tenant is. A positive reference can help solidify your resolve to let a tenant rent your home or apartment, while a negative one can help you quickly decide you need to pass on this applicant. Landlords who take the time to conduct thorough background and reference checks can quickly figure out if a tenant is the right choice for them. Verifying that history is a small investment that can provide landlords with critical results. If you are considering tenant screening but have some issues with the process, or need help regarding personal reference questions, contact Nomadic Real Estate today and speak with our experts.

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Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
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Unit Comparison Report:

  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

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Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

Commincation Dashboard Screenshot
  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Owner Portal New Message Screenshot

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

Portal Conversation Response Screenshot
  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

Net Distribution

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.