Every landlord aims at securing good tenants for his property. There are many reasons to justify this demand. A good tenant takes good care of the property, maintains cleanliness, and most importantly pays the rent on time. It is important to have least troublesome tenants so you do not need to make frequent trips to deal with the hassles of being a landlord.
Many landlords wonder about ‘how to decide which tenant is the best?’ There is a simple solution to this problem- Tenant Screening.
Tenant screening involves a set of questions you can ask the prospective tenants that will help you know them better. It is as simple as a telephonic interview. If he/she does not sound fit for renting your property, you can save your time by not meeting him/her in person and showing the property. It is important to keep in mind that you ask the same questions to every tenant in order to maintain your professional reputation and to avoid discrimination. Here are some possible and relevant questions you can ask the tenant-to-be:
Why do you want to rent the property?
This question should the foundation of your decision to hire the tenant. Be very careful and look for any change in voice, any reason that sounds fishy. You might not want to ignore things like ‘had a dispute with the previous landlord or the neighbors’. Look for valid reasons such as ‘found a new job’, ‘the area has good schools for my kids’, ‘it is closer to work’, ‘I needed more room’ or ‘the neighborhood is safer to live’.
When are you planning to move-in?
This question will clear the air about the tenant’s idea about responsibility. If he plans to move-in right away, you can get an idea that he prefers to do things at the last moment. This can also be his attitude while paying rent. Also if he was renting previously, he needs to send prior notice to the previous landlord. If he fails to do that, you need a background check. But of course you should not make quick judgments. You should make sure if he started searching much before he met you, or he had a pay cut, a sudden transfer or other valid reasons.
Can you pay the security deposit and First Month’s rent up on moving-in?
You need to make sure you never negotiate or compromise with the rent. If the tenant asks for a week’s time to pay the rent or to pay in two or three installments, you need to be firm. The rent pattern describes a lot about the tenant’s financial conditions. You need not start a tenant-owner relationship with a compromise. Make sure you hire people who can afford the place. Note it down that security deposit is essential in case the tenant causes problems.
How many people will be moving in with you?
It is important to note that according to municipalities and fire departments, overcrowding can be hazardous, both for health and safety. It is advised to limit the number of people that rent and live in an apartment.
Landlords should stick to a ‘two people, one bedroom’ rule. Fewer the people, less wear and tear you have to deal with.
Can you provide references from your previous landlord and employer?
In case the tenant hesitates in providing you with the references, you can understand he has something to hide. A reference from the employer can get you an idea about the tenant’s income and financial stability. On the other hand, a reference from the previous landlord will speak the truth about his rent paying habits. The current landlord might just want to get rid of the tenant and might refrain from telling you what you want to know.
Do I have your consent to a background check?
If you wish to have a background check and the tenant does not give you his consent, it will no longer make them a prospective tenant. A prospective tenant shall sign a form giving you permission to have background checks on them. There has to be complete transparency regarding the information they provide you.
Have you been evicted in the past?
There is no denying that most people lie about their past eviction. But asking them for the same causes no harm. Some people may tell you the truth and explain you the unfortunate situations that led to the eviction. Some noisy and damaging people, will always refrain and lie.
Do you have any questions?
It is important for landlords to end the dialogue with this. Tenants have several questions while renting a property and they should be allowed to both have as well as clear these questions.