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5 Questions You Should Always Ask When Screening New Tenants

5 Questions You Should Always Ask When Screening New TenantsThere’s nothing more frustrating than an empty property. After all, when there’s nobody living there, you’re losing money. It can be tempting to rush through the process of showing the property to new prospective tenants to get someone in as quickly as possible, but as we’ve talked about in previous posts, screening is a critical part of running a successful property management business. In addition to the obvious background checks that you should be running, here are 5 questions that you absolutely should be asking every single prospect that you’re considering. This will improve your chances of finding a good, quality, long-term renter.

What is the reason you’re looking to move?

The answers you’re looking for here might include relocation for a job or the need for additional space. However, answers that indicate trouble with neighbors or their current landlord are huge red flags that should make you think twice about choosing them as a tenant. Ask for references from previous landlords – not just the current one, who may be less than forthcoming if their goal is to get the tenant out of their property.

Get your free copy of The Property Manager’s Guide to Proactive Management — and make the time necessary to plan for an extraordinary future.

What is your employment situation?

This is a legitimate question, especially given today’s unstable economy. You want to find a tenant that can well afford to pay the rent each and every month. Ask for proof of employment status and salary, and look for those with a salary of at least 2½ to 3 times the amount of the rent you plan on charging.

Are you ok with us running a credit check?

Ask the prospect to sign off on a credit check so that you can determine what their payment history is and whether or not it would be risky to rent to them. If the prospect refuses to sign or seems uncomfortable about it, chances are it’s not someone you’ll want to have living in your property.

Who else will be living with you at the property?

Generally speaking, the fewer people you have living in your property, the less wear and tear you’ll have to worry about. Make sure you know upfront exactly how many people the prospect plans to have sharing the home or apartment with them. A good rule of thumb should be no more than 2 people per bedroom. Also, if you have a pet policy, be clear about it up front so there’s no confusion after the fact.

Can I answer any questions for you?

This is a question that many property managers and landlords fail to ask, but it’s important in building trust and respect between you and your prospective tenant. Allow them a chance to ask questions about the property, the neighbors, the area and any other concerns that they might have. The ultimate goal is to get a quality tenant that will want to stay for the long haul, so try to address any potential problems now to improve those chances.

Screening tenants is probably one of the least favorite tasks of most property management professionals, but it’s a necessary evil if you’re going to continue to be successful. By knowing what to look for and what important questions to ask, you’ll have a much better chance of attracting and retaining excellent tenants over time.


Get your free copy of The Property Manager’s Guide to Proactive Management — and make the time necessary to plan for an extraordinary future.

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