For owner landlords, the fun really begins once they hit the “submit” button to post an ad on a real estate site. Within hours, if not minutes, the emails and applications will start pouring in. Most prospective tenants will want to take a tour of the property first. You should give out as many tours as you can, but you should ask a few tenant screening questions first. Landlords and tenants need to have a certain level of compatibility. It’s like any other relationship in that respect. Keep reading for 4 questions to ask potential tenants.
Why Do You Want to Move?
Domestic migration maps show that people are leaving Northeastern and Midwestern states. Many of these people are heading to states in the South and West.
If you’re a landlord in Nevada, you may be noticing a lot of applications from people in Minnesota and Massachusetts. It’s fair to make “Why are you moving?” one of your questions for tenants.
Some people will say they got a job there. Others will say they’re looking for a place with better weather. You don’t have to ask for their life story. You should get a clear idea of what’s driving their relocation.
When Do You Need to Move?
This should be one of your first tenant screening questions. Otherwise, you might find an otherwise ideal prospective tenant who is moving in May when you won’t have any openings until June.
Statistically speaking, the best time to look for an apartment is about a month before you need to move in. But it’s common for people to start looking earlier if they’re searching in a tough rental market. Conversely, there are people who get a sudden job transfer and need to move in two or three weeks.
Who (or What) Will Live With You?
Don’t assume that the person calling is the only prospective tenant. You need to find out how many people and pets they’ll be bringing along.
Those answers will often lead to other tenant interview questions. For instance, if someone says they have a dog, you’ll need to ask what kind of dog. If they want to keep a 100-pound Great Dane in a studio apartment, the conversation should end right there.
What Proof of Income Can You Provide?
“How much money do you make?” is one of the most awkward questions to ask tenants. You have a vested interest in knowing that they can make rent each month. Yet talking about finances can make even the most seasoned landlord uncomfortable.
Asking for a pay stub might feel easier, but you need to obtain proof of income somehow. What if you’re talking to a freelancer without an official pay stub? In that case, ask for tax returns or even bank account screenshots.
More About Questions to Ask Potential Tenants
The above list of questions to ask potential tenants is a good starting point. But the process of renting out a property you own can still feel overwhelming. Being an owner-landlord comes with several unique challenges, but we’re here to help.