....we can't do things they way we used to do them. The days of calling a prospective tenant's landlord and asking "would you rent to them again" are OVER.
Most states have landlord-tenant laws and almost all have a "confidentiality" caution in them. Prospects need to provide permission to their current/former landlord IN WRITING to authorize them to release information to a prospective new landlord. These forms can be found online by googling landlord verification and e-forms.com actually has a video.
Payment of rent, lease performance issues, length of stay are valid questions...asking "would you rent to them again" is a no-no...landlords should not ask nor should current/prior landlords answer this question.
Once I have completed the verification form and my tenant has sent me a check for $50, I will send them a copy of the verification form along with sending it to their prospective landlord. This way, the new landlord can not blame any negative items on my reference since this is the only communication we have had.
So when asking for a landlord reference, do it in writing with the tenant's signature and provide a fax or e-mail address for it to be returned to you...