Which Questions Should I Ask When Screening Tenants?

Rental property owner screening tenants

If you own rental property, you have to deal with tenants. You may opt to hire a property management company to do much of the dirty work, but that is an added expense that eats into your profits. If you are going it on your own and managing your own rental property, there are certain things you need to know. One of the questions we get most at PropertyLark is “Which questions should I ask when screening tenants?”

Screening tenants can be fun, but also very frustrating. It isn’t easy to find the perfect person or people to rent your house. You obviously want someone who will pay the rent on time and will keep the property occupied for a longer lease period. At the same time, you also want them to take care of the house and not cause any other types of problems.

Here are some questions you should be asking when screening tenants for your rental property:

When Would You Like to Move in?

This is a pretty basic rental question, but it’s important to ask. Get a sense of when they will be ready to move in. You don’t want extended vacancy periods, so ideally they will want to move in as soon as you want them to move in.

How Long Have You Lived in Your Current Home?

This is a great question to ask because it shows their propensity to move. If they have a history of moving every six months, they may not be a great long-term tenancy candidate for you.

Why Are You Moving?

It’s good to understand why someone is moving from their current home or neighborhood, and why they are interested in renting your property. It can tell you a lot about their lifestyle and priorities as a renter.

What is Your Monthly Income?

Of course, you need to know how much they make each month and that their rent will be paid in full and on time every month. Beyond just knowing their monthly income, you also want to run a credit report and research their employment history to get a full view of their financial situation.

Have You Ever Been Evicted?

Don’t be afraid to ask this very important question. If they have been evicted, learn why and make sure you avoid a situation where you are going to be forced to evict them again. A past eviction doesn’t necessarily mean they will be a bad tenant now, but it is a red flag you will want to explore further.

Who Will Be Living in the Unit?

Ask how many people will be living in the rental when they move in. You have the right to know who will be occupying your property and if it seems like a suitable amount of tenants. You should also ask about pets, and if anyone living there is a smoker. Establish any pet policies or no-smoking policies upfront!

Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Crime?

Again, a criminal history isn’t necessarily grounds for dismissing a potential tenant. It is simply your right to know and can help you with your tenant screening decisions.

Have You Ever Broken a Rental Agreement?

In addition to figuring out their rental history, you should ask this question to know if they have ever broken a rental agreement in the past. If so, ask why and understand the previous situation. It may not be their fault if they had a bad landlord in the past, or they could have a history of broken agreements that will show you they are a risky tenant.

These are just some of the questions you will want to ask during the tenant screening process. The important thing is to make sure you get all the necessary information from every applicant in order to make the right decisions about who you want living in your property. If you are smart and thorough about how you are screening tenants, you will have a more successful rental ownership experience.

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