Property Management Blog

Tenant Screening Questions to Ask New Renters

Tenant Screening Questions to Ask New Renters

If you own rentals, the success of your real estate investments will be as good as the quality of tenants that occupy your rentals. That’s why tenant a great screening process is recommended. It gives you an opportunity to understand the background of a potential tenant and identify any red flags of a bad tenant before you can commit. However, one of the main challenges that landlords face during the tenant screening process is not knowing which questions to ask new potential renters. 

That’s why in this guide we have prepared a list of key tenant screening questions that you need to ask potential tenants in order to weed out undesirable characters.

They include;

When are you planning to move in?

This is a logistical question that helps you to quickly identify whether your needs and preference matches with that of a potential renter or not. Maybe you have a vacancy that you need to be occupied immediately only to find out the new applicant is not planning to move in very soon. 

On the other hand, you might find a potential renter who would like to move in immediately and your house is not yet ready. This should be the first question that you should ask a potential renter so that you don’t waste a lot of time going on with other questions only to find out later that it’s not visible.

Do you currently rent? If yes, where?

This question will help you understand whether the potential renter is coming from another rented home or he/she was a homeowner. If they were tenant in another house, enquire the details of the specific rentals and the area. You can also enquire how long have they stayed in their current home. 

Doing so helps you have an idea whether they can make a long-term tenant or that they will keep hopping from one home to another if that has been their trend. Also, ask what date they are planning to move out of their current home so that you can weigh your options.

Why are you moving out?

This is a very important question to ask every tenant during the screening process. It will help you understand the main motivation of them moving out and help you identify any red flags such as evictions and unemployment that might make them bad tenants. 

If they are moving out simply because they have outgrown their starter home or it’s as a result of relocating, those are acceptable reasons. Ask for a reference letter from their previous landlord to ascertain that what they are saying is not contrary to what the previous landlord will say. 

Do you have pets?

Many tenants are very keen to understand whether your rentals are pet-friendly or not. If they have pets and you don’t accept pets in your rentals, you will save screening time as they will not be suitable renters to occupy your vacant home.

If you allow pets in your rentals, you need to clearly stipulate the current pet policy that govern your rentals so that the potential tenant can review them and make a decision. It can touch on important pet issues such as they type of pets allowed, the maximum number, or any pet fees/deposit that is required.

How many people will occupy the rental unit?

When you screen a potential renter, you need to put in mind that there are other family members or friends who will likely occupy the house. If there are occupancy limits for rental properties in your area, you need to stipulate that and let the new tenant confirm if they will adhere to those rules or look for a new alternative. If they accept to give you the number of people who will be living in your home, go ahead and scrutinize if they have any criminal record or if they smoke.

Are you employed? If yes, what’s your monthly income?

Asking the income question to your new potential tenant is very important as you will determine whether there is likelihood of experiencing rent arrears. It’s recommended to rent out your home to a new tenant whose monthly income is at least three times the house rent. 

Tenants with high monthly income will have an easier time paying rent in time as well as taking care of other financial obligations. Make sure to review their credit score and behavior so that you can have a good idea of their financial muscles and determine whether they can be long-term clients or not.

Have you ever broken any rental agreement?

Find out if the new potential tenant has broken any rental agreement or lease before. If yes, ask for sincere reasons to determine whether it was ethical or not. You can find out that some reasons were justifiable like unfriendly neighbors, insecurity issues while you might find other tenants giving lame excuses which can be a red flag sign. Make sure to counter-check the information given by reviewing the previous landlord reference report.

Have you ever been evicted?

If a new potential tenant has a record of past evictions, there are high chances that the same will happen in future. If the answer is yes, find out what was the cause of past eviction and weigh the matter at hand to determine whether there is any possibility of it happening again.

If the root cause of past eviction has changed, for instance if it was because of rent arrears as a result of job loss and the new tenant is currently employed, you might consider giving them benefits of doubt. However, if it was something to do with unruly behaviors, that’s a red flag and you should avoid such tenants.

If you would like professional help in managing your rental properties, consider working with Bottom Line Property Management for unmatched proficient services.

Blog Home