Being a landlord requires that you take caution when picking tenants for your properties. Dealing with a bad tenant can taint your experience as a landlord, so you must ask the right questions to your tenants during the screening process.
I am sure we have all heard the stories of nightmare tenants who completely destroy investment properties or always pay rent late. This post was created to offer guidance to new landlords who may be anxious about the tenant screening process. The questions within the post were created as starting points for new landlords because there are many other things to consider during the screening process.
If you are looking for additional questions to ask your tenants or want additional insight into the tenant screening process, the blog RentPrep is a great resource.
Do You Currently Rent or Own? Where?
As a landlord, this is the first question you should ask a tenant in the screening process. If you know whether or not the individual has ever rented a property before will give you a good understanding of how the screening and application process will move forward.
It's not difficult to understand that individuals who have never rented before will not be familiar with the process or the paperwork required during the screening and application process. Therefore as a landlord, you will need to provide more guidance and patience with them along the way.
Whereas if the tenant was an experienced renter, you will have the mindset that they have already been through a tenant screening process before, and they will know what will be required throughout the majority of the process.
Landlords also like to ask this question as it pertains to homeownership and whether or not the tenant has owned a property in the past. Typically if someone has owned a property in the past, they understand how to take care of a home and the amount of time that goes into the process. Therefore it is assumed that a previous homeowner will take better care of a property because they have had or have one themselves.
The last element to highlight with this question is where does the tenant currently stays. If they are a renter, you must talk to their current landlord about them as tenants.
Don’t skip this step!
Always reach out to at least one past landlord to consider their opinion of the potential tenant. The other landlord has no reason but to give you an honest opinion of them and help you make an informed decision.
Have You Ever Been Evicted?
Asking a tenant whether he or she has been evicted should be an obvious question that every landlord should ask a potential tenant. In most tenant screening processes, this question almost always appears.
This is a great question to ask your tenant because, in most cases, landlords look at past tenants with evictions as repeat offenders. Whether ones’ actions in the past dictate how one would act in the future is debatable; however, it is definitely something to consider when seeking potential tenants.
Another interesting point as to why this question is important to ask is that regardless of what the tenant says, you can determine whether the tenant has been evicted at the time of the background and credit check. If the tenant has been evicted in the past, it will most likely show up on their most recent credit report.
Therefore you can use the answer at which the tenant states at the interview or on the screening paperwork as a character check to see if the tenant is an honest individual.
The last piece to note is if your potential tenant has had an eviction, it is important to understand why they were evicted in the past. In some rare cases, people have been evicted in the past at fault to an irresponsible parent, roommate, or something completely out of their control. That is why it is extremely important to understand why the individual was evicted and then follow up with the past landlord to verify the story.
Why Are You Looking For A New Place To Live?
People leave properties for many different reasons, and it's important as a landlord to understand why someone wants to live in your property. Having the ability to gain background information on your tenant allows you to serve as a better landlord and address your needs.
For example, if you are renting your property out to a college student versus a family of four, you have different concerns about how the tenant will behave in the property. For the college student, you may be concerned with them throwing a few parties or having many guests over, whereas, for the family of four, you may just be concerned about their young kids writing on the walls.
Regardless, the point being made here is that every tenant wants to live in your place for different reasons. By asking this question, you begin to understand who the tenant or tenants are and offer you valuable information on how to best serve them as a landlord.
These are just a few of the many things that you should be considering as a landlord. Background checks and running a credit report must not be overlooked because both are important tools to help understand the tenants' backgrounds.
Lastly, take some time searching the web or asking other landlords for questionnaires or templates to help guide you along the tenant screening process.