Tenant Screening: 25 Questions for LandlordsDave Walton
The Delicate Dance Between Time and Quality in Tenant Selection
Tenant screening: It’s an unavoidable but crucial part of being a landlord, right? You want to find the perfect tenant—someone reliable, respectful, and responsible—but you also don’t want to spend an eternity doing it. Because let’s face it, you’ve got a business to run, and as the saying goes, “time is money.”
So, what’s the game plan? Do you rush through the process, leaving it to chance? No, you don’t, and here’s why: there’s far too much at stake. It’s like trying to make a cup of tea with cold water; it just won’t brew right. So, what you need is a strategy that balances thoroughness with efficiency. And the cornerstone of that strategy? Asking the right questions.
The Big List: 25 Screening Questions to Make Your Life Easier
Here’s a list of questions that you should consider asking your would-be tenants. It’ll not only help you gauge their suitability but also clear out a lot of guesswork. After all, knowledge is power, isn’t it?
When do you plan on moving in?
Seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? But if your calendars don’t match up, there’s no sense in wasting each other’s time. Simple yet effective.
Are you currently a tenant somewhere else?
Knowing whether they’re currently renting can provide a sneak peek into how familiar they are with the whole renting dance.
Can your current landlord vouch for you?
A key question that opens the door to understanding the tenant-landlord dynamic they’re used to. And yes, asking for actual references is a given.
What about previous landlords or employers?
It’s like reading the reviews before buying something online. You wouldn’t skip that step, so why would you here? But be fair; people can change.
Is your current landlord aware you’re looking to move?
This one’s a little trickier, almost like a spy probing for information. It offers a window into the tenant’s level of consideration and openness in their current lease situation.
Ever been evicted?
This one sounds like a stinger, but it’s practical. You’re not only getting ahead of any red flags but also offering them a chance to clarify.
Have you ever broken a rental agreement?
People break rental agreements for a multitude of reasons—some bad, some understandable. The question lets you hear their side of the story.
Got a criminal record? If yes, what for and when?
Better to hear it from the horse’s mouth than get a rude shock later, right?
Why are you moving?
An ordinary question with extraordinary implications. It’s like asking someone why they left their last job during an interview.
How long did you stay at your last place?
Tenancy longevity can be a pretty good indicator of stability and reliability. You don’t want a rolling stone gathering no moss, do you?
What’s your ideal lease duration?
A valuable follow-up to the previous question. Maybe they’ll even flip the script and ask you, “How long will you let us stay?”
How many people are moving in?
This one’s not just a question; it’s a requirement, especially from a legal standpoint.
Do you or any future residents smoke?
Like it or not, smoking has implications for your property, and this question will give you a chance to clarify your stance on it.
What about pets?
Your tenant’s choice of pet could range from a cuddly cat to, let’s say, a python. Best to know what you’re signing up for.
Are you familiar with your tenant responsibilities?
This question is a litmus test for how well they’re likely to follow the tenancy agreement.
What do you do for a living?
It might sound nosy, but it can actually give you a clue into how your property will be used and the kind of lifestyle your tenant leads.
Do you enjoy your job?
More than just small talk, this is a subtle way to gauge their job stability.
What’s your annual income?
Uncomfortable but essential. You’re not a charity, you’re running a business. So, you need to know if they can pay the rent without turning every month into an episode of ‘Deal or No Deal.’
Can you pay the deposit upfront?
Imagine trying to get ketchup out of a near-empty bottle. If getting the deposit is a struggle, monthly payments might just be as difficult.
Is there a guarantor in the picture?
A guarantor is like a financial safety net, providing you an extra layer of security.
Any questions for me?
This flip turns the interview into a two-way street and could offer you unexpected insights.
How do you plan on paying the rent?
Because, believe it or not, not everyone is into direct debit, and you’ll want to know how they plan on transferring their monthly dues.
Do you have renters’ insurance?
It’s like a seatbelt for tenants—a precautionary measure that shows they’re serious about protecting themselves and your property.
How often do you have visitors?
This question can provide insights into the tenant’s lifestyle, which might impact your property.
Have you ever had disputes with neighbours?
This last question can give you a sense of how they engage in a community setting. A good neighbour makes everyone’s life easier, after all.
Wrapping it Up
In the end, finding the ideal tenant is not unlike dating. It’s all about compatibility, trust, and hopefully, a long-term relationship that’s beneficial for both parties. So take your time, ask the right questions, and remember, your gut feeling counts for something too. After all, as a landlord, your property is more than just bricks and mortar; it’s an investment, a livelihood, and, yes, even a part of your legacy.