4 Questions You Must Ask When Screening Tenants

Do you own a property you plan on renting to a tenant in the near future? If so, make sure you ask these four questions before handing over the keys to such a valuable investment.

Why Are You Moving?

It’s shocking how many landlords neglect to ask this simple question despite how important the answer can be. Obviously, we’re not suggesting that someone who is moving because of something like property damage or an eviction is going to be honest with you. However, they may give out some red flags that make it clear you don’t want them in your home.

If you haven’t asked this question in the past because you think it would be nosy, don’t worry about it. Just ask the question casually as a part of small talk and it won’t seem like you’re overstepping our boundaries. Most people will understand, anyway. This property of yours is a big investment. It makes sense that you want to know about the person you’ll be renting to.

When Would You Want to Move In?

This is another question that seems simple enough but can afford you important insights. Unlike the above, you should have absolutely no problem asking this one. After all, as the landlord, you want to make sure the property will be ready in time for a tenant to move in.

The real reason you’re asking is to see if they say something like “tomorrow” or “this weekend.” While there could be extenuating circumstances, this kind of response suggests that the person isn’t very responsible or good at planning ahead. This is also the kind of person who might decide to only give you a day or two of notice when they decide to move out.

How Much Do You Make?

This is probably a question for the screening form as asking it in person may seem inappropriate. That being said, it’s still a very important question to ask. Most landlords agree that a tenant should make 2.5 to 3 times the amount you charge for rent. You want to make sure that paying rent isn’t going to be a problem for this person.

Of course, you still want to run a credit check on the person. By asking this question upfront, though, you will vet candidates before the credit check becomes necessary.

Could You Provide References from Past Landlords?

Some potential tenants will legitimately not have any references for you. They may be fresh out of college or moving out of their parents’ houses. There’s only so much you can do in this situation (charging a higher deposit is one idea).

Anyone else should have no problem producing contact information for former landlords. The key word here is “former.” Their current landlord may be happy to gloat about their tenant if their real goal is to simply get rid of them.

While you should still perform other parts of the vetting process (e.g. the credit check), if you start off with these four questions, you should be able to avoid renting to tenants who will become a problem

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