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Regarding risk in rental properties, selecting the right tenant is crucial for success and profits.  Selecting the wrong tenant can lead to headaches, damages and evictions.  Selecting the right tenant can lead to a simple life.  The first step is learning the proper questions to ask potential tenants.

Often landlords are asking questions to learn about the applicant’s life.  Their responses may determine if they are eligible to lease the property.  We provide a list of questions and explain their benefits.

It is important to note what landlords cannot ask.  Applicants are a protected class.  More at the bottom of the blog.

Questions to Ask Potential Tenants

  1. Do you currently rent, and if so, where?
  2. How long have you lived in your current home?
  3. Why are you looking for a new place to live?
  4. What date would you want to move in?
  5. How long will you live here?
  6. Are you willing to sign a multi-year lease agreement?
  7. What kind of work do you do?
  8. What is a rough estimate of your monthly income?
  9. Will you be fine to pay our lease application fee of ($ amount) if you fill out the application?
  10. Would you be able to pay the security deposit of ($ amount) at the lease signing?
  11. Do you have a checking account? Do you have a savings account?
  12. Are you willing to provide proof of funds and income?
  13. Could anything interrupt your ability to pay rent?
  14. How many people would be living with you?
  15. How many parking spaces would you require if you rent here?
  16. What pets do you have?
  17. How many people living with you smoke?
  18. Do you think your current landlord will give you a favorable reference?
  19. Does your current landlord know you are thinking of moving?
  20. How many evictions have been filed upon you?
  21. Are you familiar with our rental application process?
  22. Are there any issues I should know about before I run a background screening for all the adults in the household?
  23. Have you filed for bankruptcy recently?
  24. Can I contact your employer and former landlords?
  25. Will you agree to a background and credit check?
  26. Have you ever been convicted of a relevant crime?
  27. Have you ever broken a lease agreement?
  28. Do you have any questions for me about the process?
  29. How did you hear about this home?
  30. Why should we rent to you?

 

Their Current Situation

It is important to understand why tenants are moving.  Their response can provide insight to what type of tenant they will be.

For example, moving for a temporary job or schooling can signal a one-year lease.  Or, they need a multi-year lease since they will not look to buy a property.

Moving from a bad situation is a warning for potential drama.  Drama moving in will be drama moving out.  Frequently bad situations require tenants to move abruptly.

  1. Do you currently rent, and if so, where?
  2. How long have you lived in your current home?
  3. Why are you looking for a new place to live?
  4. What date would you want to move in?
  5. How long will you live here?
  6. Are you willing to sign a multi-year lease agreement?

Financial Well Being and Occupation

Tenants are responsible and expected to pay rent every month.  Therefore, reviewing their financial history is important.  Think about it is this way: every month rent is loaned to the tenants to pay off.  Can they pay back that loans?

These questions allow landlords to understand the financial risk for each applicant.  Avoid tenants that refuse to provide proof of income or funds.

Not all tenants earn a W-2 income.  Read our blog to understand other forms of income.

  1. What kind of work do you do?
  2. What is a rough estimate of your monthly income?
  3. Will you be fine to pay our lease application fee of ($ amount) if you fill out the application?
  4. Would you be able to pay the security deposit of ($ amount) at the lease signing?
  5. Do you have a checking account? Do you have a savings account?
  6. Are you willing to provide proof of funds and income?
  7. Could anything interrupt your ability to pay rent?

 

Their Intended Use of Property

These tenants occupy the property without any supervision.  Tenants are expected to return the property in similar, or better conditions.  That is not always the case.

By asking these questions, you discover potential damage.  Every smoker will promise to smoke outside. The reality is chemicals are still carried inside.  This has a long-term risk effect when the next tenants complain of the smell.

Although you have a pet policy, service animals are a protected class.  Due to this protection, landlords cannot ask about service animals.  Only regular pet animals.

Ask these questions to learn potential damages to the property.

  1. How many people would be living with you?
  2. How many parking spaces would you require if you rent here?
  3. What pets do you have?
  4. How many people living with you smoke?

 

Background History and References

Previous actions indicate future behaviors.  Although people can change, often people stay the same.

Always pull a Background Report and Credit Check.  Applicants easily lie about previous convictions.  If a tenant refuses, deny their approval.

Poor credit does not mean they will be trouble.  Have them explain.  Majority of tenants rent to build their credit.  Note whether they are aware of and working on improving their credit.  Or, do they only provide excuses.

Previous landlord references are important.  A glimpse into their future relationship with you.  Be warned that landlords who want tenants out may provide a good referral.  Previous, not current, landlords often provide honest feedback.

Avoid personal references.  Have you ever heard an uncle, parent, or friend give a bad referral?  Save your time.  Calling employers can be useful to confirm their start dates and wages.

  1. Do you think your current landlord will give you a favorable reference?
  2. Does your current landlord know you are thinking of moving?
  3. How many evictions have been filed upon you?
  4. Are you familiar with our rental application process?
  5. Are there any issues I should know about before I run a background screening for all the adults in the household?
  6. Have you filed for bankruptcy recently?
  7. Can I contact your employer and former landlords?
  8. Will you agree to a background and credit check?
  9. Have you ever been convicted of a relevant crime?
  10. Have you ever broken a lease agreement?

 

Questions for You

Time to reveal their desire for your property.  Allow the applicants to ask questions.  This provides additional information and insight to their intentions.

  1. Do you have any questions for me about the process?
  2. How did you hear about this home?
  3. Why should we rent to you?

 

Questions You CANNOT Ask

It’s also important to discuss questions you legally cannot ask.  Fair Housing has strict laws to protect different classes of applicants.  For good reasons too.  Discriminating against these protected classes can lead to hefty fines.

Avoid questions relating to these topics.

  1. National Origin
  2. Disabilities
  3. Children
  4. Religion
  5. Race
  6. Skin Color
  7. Sex

 

Create Pre-Screening Survey on Google Forms

Are there questions on this list that you want customized?  Consider using Google Forms to create your custom rental questionnaire.

Google Forms allows complete customization.  Select different question formations, such as multiple choice, calendar, radio button or text.

After completing the form, share the link with all interested applicants.  Upon submitting, responses are saved on Google Forms or export them to Google Sheets.

 

Standardize Your Questions

Landlords want the best tenants.  Use the exact same screening process for every applicant interested in your property.  This will prevent any trouble violating Fair Housing.

A standard process also simplifies your life and stress.  Applicants who do not follow the process are foreshadowing their future behaviors.

 

Free Background Reports and Credit Checks

Burbz offers landlords FREE background reports and credit checks.  Applicants do pay which means less work for landlords.  Landlords do have the option to pay if desired.

While screening reports are important, these are only a tool in the screening process.  Proper screening includes the questions discussed and validating their background.

Learn more about Burbz screening reports.

See a sample report.

 

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