10 Important Questions to Ask When Screening Tenants

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What questions should a landlord ask a potential tenant? Read below landlord questions to ask when screening tenants….

It is extremely important for a landlord to distinguish between good tenants from the bad tenants not only for the sake of their property but also for their mental peace. So, what questions to ask any prospective renter in order to know if they will be good tenants or not?

Given below is a tenant screening checklist that contains 10 important questions that will help you decide whether to give your property to a particular renter or not.

Read: Best Ways to Find Good Tenants for Your Rental Property

questions to ask prospective renter

How to Screen Tenants?

Whenever landlords give their property on rent, three worries always remain uppermost on their minds. They are:

  • Will the rent be paid on time?
  • Will the renter take proper care of the property?
  • How good a neighbor the renter will prove to be in the neighborhood?

Screening tenants to know all this becomes difficult for a landlord by just meeting with them once. It can also turn out to be waste of time if a landlord has to judge each and every prospective tenant by meeting them face to face.

Hence, it is a good idea to prepare some pre-screening questions for tenants that a landlord can ask over the phone before setting a F-to-F meeting with them.

Some basic tenant screening things like deposit money, issue of pets or parking space can be discussed and cleared before you decide to take the renter for a view of the property. It will help save both yours and the prospective renter’s time.

Given below are 10 tenant screening questions that you should consider asking a prospective tenant before you decide to give your property on rent to them.

Must Ask Tenants Screening Questions

  1. What is Your Monthly Income and Can You Pay the Deposit?

This is one of the most basic tenant screening questions. This will help you determine whether the tenant will be able to pay the rent on time. It will also let you know if the tenant has enough finances to give the deposit you are asking for.

Some renters do pay the rent on time but are not so punctual at the deposit front. This can become a problem for you if tenant damages the property. You will need some kind of security deposit to deal with such kind of situations.

A rule of thumb to use while screening tenants is to multiply the rent amount to 2.5. If the person has that much income per month then he/she should be able to pay the rent on time. But, if the person has other debts, like car loan then a higher income would be better.

  1. What Kind of Job You Do?

An important aspect of screening tenant’s long term financial stability is by knowing the type of work he does. A tenant who is a permanent employee will have a better financial outlook than an intern.

Some people do various odd jobs or work as freelancers. The income of such people will generally not be the same always. In order to confirm the stability of the income source, you can have a look at the past few years bank statement records.

Read: Renting to College Students: Advantages and Disadvantages

  1. Can You Provide References from Previous Landlords and Current Employer?

References play a crucial role in any tenant screening questionnaire. If any prospective tenant is unable to come up with good references then it is a warning signal.

You can also call up previous landlords and employers to check the validity of the facts furnished by your prospective tenants.

Evictions, rowdy behavior, unpaid dues are not good signs.

While screening tenants on this aspect, remember to call on landline number of the employer or the company. Some people give mobile number of their friends or relatives to mislead you or to hide facts.

  1. How Many People Will Live in the Rental Property?

Screening tenants based upon number of people moving in the rental property will give you an idea of the amount of wear and tear the property will suffer. You will definitely not want 6 friends to cram up in your studio apartment or 1 BHK.

Your tenant screening questions should not break any laws and you should not reject a renter because of their religion, color, race or gender. For example, asking a renter about number of people moving in is ok, but asking how many children will be staying with the tenant is against the law.

  1. Do You Have Pets and If Yes Then How Many?

This can be a deal-breaker tenant screening question. Even if everything looks good but the tenant has pets and you have a no pet policy then there is no point in going further with the questionnaire.

Even if you are ok with pets, remember some people keep many pets and a variety of pets. This can add to the property’s maintenance cost.

Screening tenants on this question can become tricky if it involves service animals. If your prospective tenant keeps assistant animals then you cannot refuse them this right under your “no pets” policy.

tenant screening questions

  1. Reasons for Moving and Date of Moving In

Though this might not look like a very important tenant screening question, you will have be careful with what answers you get. A sudden or quick move might be a warning sign. Is the tenant being evicted? Is he leaving because he has had a fight with neighbors?

The dates of moving will also impact your selection decision. The date the prospective tenant wants to move in might not coincide with your letting date.

Read: Difference Between Lease and Rental Agreement: Lease vs Rent

  1. Questions on Smoking

Smoking inside the apartment can increase its maintenance cost. Removing odors and stains can become an expensive affair. Hence, make sure to include it in your tenant questionnaire form.

You can also keep it as one of the tenant screening questions that you will ask face to face. You can always tell if the person is lying about smoking by his appearance/odor.

  1. Parking Space Requirements

While screening tenants it is a good idea to know their parking space requirements upfront. Not only will it help you know if it matches with the parking arrangements you have but it will also give you an idea of the number of people who will live in the house.

  1. Ask If It Is OK If You Run Few Checks on Them Like Credit Score Check and Criminal History Check?

While screening tenants it is vital that you take permission from them to run credit score checks. Any hesitance on the part of renter will signal a red alert.

  1. Will Friends/Guests Be Staying Overnight Frequently?

Some people have permanent guests 😄 Friends on the lookout for a job, relatives who live half of the year with your tenant and so on. Try and find out about these guests while screening tenants. This will help you estimate the wear and tear your property will go through.

After you have done asking, be prepared to answer some tenant questions. Through their questions you will get to know what their expectations from the property are and whether you can fulfill them.

Wrap up – Essential Things to Ask When Interviewing Renters

Screening tenants with the right kind of questions can save a lot of hassle later on. Finding the right tenants for your property can look like a big job but when it is done well, it can result into many years of peace and quiet.

So, do not hesitate and prepare an in-depth tenant screening questionnaire that you will want to ask your prospective tenant apart from those given in the article.

All the best! 😊

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