For ideal renters, the application and screening processes are important for landlords. These processes ensure that you have a tenant with a steady income, one who pays rent on time, and also one who respect your property and the property of your other tenants. In short, the last thing you need is issues with a tenant because you didn’t screen them.
Fortunately, there is a simple process for screening potential tenants – asking them to fill out the rental application. This application has the answers that determine whether the tenant is reliable or not, and it acts as the preliminary qualifier before interviewing them.
Note, however, that you’re not allowed or required to hold formal interviews for the tenants. Instead, you could accept their application then show them the rental property. If they meet your requirements, you can allow them to move in.
So how do you make the rental application thorough? Which questions should you ask and which questions can’t you ask?
Questions to ask your prospective tenants
When are you moving out of your current residence/ when would you like to move in?
The timing has to be right, but you also need information about why they’re moving out of their current residence. If the tenant isn’t ready to move into space for about three more months as your place sits vacant, then it’s not worth wasting your time showing them space.
Will you pass a background and a credit check?
During your conversation, inform the potential renter that you’d show them to space, but they’ll have to fill out an application and pass a credit/ background check to move in.
Will you pay the move-in costs after signing the lease?
Tell the potential client about your security deposit arrangement and ask if they will be able to pay the rent and the security deposit immediately after signing the lease.
Note that a potential tenant who asks if you’d accept the payment in installments is one you should flag. It could mean having issues getting the full rent on time.
Do you have pets? Would you have pets in the future?
You can stop the interview if the potential tenant has pets and you have a no-pet policy. If you accept pets, explain the restrictions present (if any).
Why are you leaving your current residence?
Answers like “my landlord terminated the lease” or “we don’t get along with my landlord” should raise an alarm. You might want to talk to the landlord for clarification.
How many people will you be living with?
These questions ensure that you don’t have a bad tenant move in.
Just avoid asking discriminatory questions like those about nationalities, disabilities, religion or children.
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