Finding the right tenant can make or break your rental business, so it’s important to take the time to screen prospective tenants and find a good fit. However, it can be hard to know what questions to ask to find what you’re looking for. Here we’ll list the top ten questions you should ask as well as why they’re important and what information they’ll help you learn.
What is your current address?
This will tell you what kind of property they are currently living in and give you a chance to learn about their current circumstances. If they’re coming from a place that costs less than your property, it might be a good idea to check that they’re going to be able to pay for the extra rent. This also gives you an opportunity to find out who their current landlord is and ask them any questions you have about this prospective tenant. You may also consider driving by their current home and see what the exterior looks like to see if it’s well kept. Finally, if there’s a gap in their rental history you may want to inquire further.
Why are you looking for a new place to live?
If they start complaining about their old landlord, neighbors, or roommates, this may be a sign that they’ll be trouble for your property. Have they been kicked out of their old apartment? Or are they simply looking for a better school district for their children? This question can tell you a lot about their background and wants in a property.
How many vehicles do you own?
This will help you know what parking arrangements would need to be made, however, it can also help you know a little more. If they consistently have more vehicles in their space than they told you they own, it’s a good indicator that someone is living there that isn’t on the lease.
When are you planning on moving?
This will help you know if they want to move in when the property is available, making you save time if they’re wanting to move in too early or late. Be wary of anyone wanting you to save the property for them. At the least, get a nonrefundable deposit from them to hold the property, otherwise, you’ll be missing out on rent and if they end up not moving in you’ll have to spend even more time looking for another tenant.
How long do you plan to live here?
This will help you figure out if this person is your optimal tenant. If they’re hoping for a month-to-month lease and you only allow for year-long leases, you should let them know the arrangement won’t work out. If they seem unsure, find out why and see if it could cause them to break their lease early.
Will you agree to a background and credit check?
The reasons for this one are pretty self-explanatory, but this is a question that many people don’t ask. If they answer no, don’t rent to them, period.
Can I contact your previous landlord/current employer?
If they say no, be wary, but see if they have a reason. Sometimes there are simply misunderstandings that could cause negative opinions about others. However, always be sure to check that the information they give you is accurate. If they give you names of an employer that doesn’t actually work with them or the wrong name for their landlord, it’s a good indicator they’re trying to hide something from you.
Do you have any animals?
Be careful with this question as implying you want to know if they have a service animal could be misinterpreted as discrimination. However, if you have a no-pets policy this is an important question to ask. If you do allow pets, it might be a good idea to ask about the breed, age, and if they’re housebroken to make sure they won’t cause any unnecessary problems in your property.
Does any occupant smoke?
If you have a no-smoking policy, this is a good time to let them know of any designated smoking areas on your property and to be clear about your expectations. If they say no, look for signs of smoking such as yellowed fingernails, small burn marks on clothing, a strange smell, or possibly any ashtrays in their car. This may seem a bit overkill, but if a tenant smokes in your non-smoking property, it becomes very difficult to get the smell out of the carpets and walls.
Do you have any questions for me?
This will give you tons of insight into what this potential tenant is wanting in a property and property manager. They will likely reveal fears and concerns they have which will show you how high maintenance of a tenant they would be if they moved in or if they would look for loopholes where they could abuse the property.