Posted 7 months ago

Tenant Pre-Screening Questions

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If you have been a landlord, you should know two things about the basics of tenant selection. One, it takes a long time and two, you need to do this carefully if you want to avoid bad tenants, unpaid rent, or damaged property. The key rule to remember, the quality of your tenants determines the quality of your income. That's why you need to do a pre-screen interview, a preliminary interview with a tenant will help you weed out unsuitable candidates ahead of time. This means that on the property you rent, you only meet potential customers who are suitable to live in your property based on your selection criteria.

Whether you're doing a phone interview, emailing preliminary questions, or using an online form, these are some of the pre-screening questions to help you find the perfect tenant for your property.

1. What is your profession and monthly income?

A really important eligibility check is the question of the prospect's employment details, which are already part of the standard rental application process. If none of the adult tenants have stable full-time jobs, they may not be suitable to pay rent regularly, this will also help you determine if a potential tenant can pay the rent at all. As some tenants have difficulties such as large debts to pay off and that's why you need to perform a credit check on your rental application, but definitely find out if they can afford the property before you take the time to show it to them.

2. How many people live with you? 

A rule of thumb is to have a maximum capacity of two people per room to minimize wear and tear. And be careful not to violate fair housing rules by providing one bedroom for each child and you should also make sure that every adult resident completes a rental application and if they are over eighteen to sign a lease also. This also means you can run background checks and credit checks on all eligible tenants.

3. Can you pay the deposit and rent for the first month after the lease is signed?

This is a great opportunity to inform the candidate in advance what is required of him. They may not want to pay the required deposit and rent in advance, or they may have cash problems and you must receive full payment before your tenants move in case of damage or other problems. And you should never start renting your property where your tenant owes you money from day one.

4. How long have you lived on your property and why are you moving?

If you are looking for a long-term and reliable tenant and if they only renewed their previous contract for a year or less, or if they canceled the lease, you should find out why. Some of the reasons could be legitimate such as a job change or property outgrowth, but there can also be something else. If your potential tenants are looking elsewhere because they have been evicted by their landlord, you should ask a few additional questions.

5. Have you ever been evicted or refused to pay rent?

Some potential tenants will not admit they have ever been evicted, and you can still find out with the Eviction History Report. But if they say yes, it gives them an opportunity to explain why, as the previous eviction maybe just as part of flawless rental history or behavior that is not easy to change. If the applicant agrees, it could reveal any disputes between tenants and their previous landlords and the history of these problems is something you don't want to take risks with.

6. Do you have any references from your employer and former landlord? 

If a potential tenant cannot provide an employer or landlord recommendations, they may have something to hide. This allows you to check their billing and employment history, which is why they are critical to protecting your property investment. And be sure to ask for recommendations from their previous landlords, as their current landlord can say anything just to get them out of the property. 

7. Does your current landlord know that you want to leave? 

If the answer is no, that's another huge red flag. Either they haven't filed a notice with their current landlord yet, or they plan to move out a few months in advance and aren't ready to make a commitment. They will also need to provide you a recommendation from their current landlord, so make sure they can provide it when the time comes. 

8. Do you have pets?

If you have a policy where you don't accept pets on your property you can immediately discount any prospects with pets. But if pets are allowed on your property, it is worth finding out the number of them, breeds, sizes of each animal, so you can understand whether they will comply with the rental rules. 

9. Does anyone in your home smoke? 

Whether it's cigarettes or vapes, smoke can stain your walls, destroy your furniture and leave a bad odor. So if you are otherwise not satisfied with the smoker's, be sure to indicate to that person that he should smoke outside. Otherwise, you have to be prepared to spend part of the deposit on general cleaning.

10. Do you agree to credit and background checks and have you filed for bankruptcy?

You are going to do the necessary checks anyway as part of the rental application process because you want to protect your investment, but if the applicant categorically refuses to consent to a credit check or background check, you can eliminate them immediately. You should find any bankruptcy documents during your credit check, but it is worth asking in advance to save you time and it also provides an opportunity for a potential tenant to explain the circumstances of his bankruptcy. 

11. Are you ready to sign a lease for X-years? 

Your potential tenants can look great on paper with brilliant references and a stable job, but if they don't want to stick to your desired time frame, you will waste your precious time meeting them, so make sure they know in advance the duration of the time that they planning to live in your property.

You can do this pre-check over the phone or by sending them an email template. Or to save even more time, you create an online survey with these questions using Google Forms. Just enter your questions and send the link to each potential renter.