6 Important Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants

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6 Important Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants

Have you ever read one of those horror stories about nightmare tenants? If you have you’ll know that you have to be pretty careful when finding new tenants.

There are lots of problems that come with them that could see your life turned upside down and out of pocket to the tune of thousands of dollars. 

But don’t despair there are some simple questions to ask prospective tenants that can ensure you avoid the bad eggs. Remember becoming a landlord has lots of perks like tax breaks and most of the time is a rewarding experience. 

1. Do You Have Pets?

The first question to ask is who or what is going to be staying in the house. You might not want pets staying in your house for a very good reason. Dogs and cats can chew up the furniture and they could urinate all over the floor. Your tenant may not be good at clearing all of this up.

Remember there are different rules for service pets

In the long run, this could cost you lots of money. If you are not ok with pets you should ask your tenant upfront if they have pets and make it clear that they won’t be welcome in your home. If the tenant says no and you later find out they do that could set alarm bells ringing as it shows they are a liar. 

If the tenant says yes ask them in detail what arrangements they are going to make for the pets whilst they are living at your flat. Will they go and live with a friend? Will they be taken into care or put up for adoption? If the tenant is vague about this it could mean they are planning to keep pets in the house and not tell you. 

2. What Is Your Employment Status?

You must have an understanding of how your new tenants are going to pay you. This is more than just a basic question of them assuring that they will pay you. 

You need to have a detailed understanding of where their income comes from. Are they employed full time or part-time? Are they on a temporary contract or are they on a permeant contract?

And how will they cover the rent if they lose their job? Do they have savings or do they have family members that can cover them. You could also ask for references from their employer to check that they attend work regularly.

You want to ensure that the new tenants are good employees and that their employer has no reason to fire them. 

3. What Was Your Relationship Like With Former Landlords?

This is probably going to be hard to gauge just by asking this question. But the point of asking this question is to corroborate it with what their former landlords say. 

If the tenant is honest about a relationship being good or a relationship breaking down and they can reflect on this then it shows they understand what has worked and what has not worked.

It could be that when you speak to your landlord’s previous tenants their version of events contradicts that of your tenant. You may start to see a pattern and may start to realize that this tenant is unsuited to move into your house or apartment. 

4. Why Do You Want to Move?

You must try and establish a coherent narrative as to why your tenant wants to move in the first place. Some people have a generic reason. They want a bigger place, they want to downsize or they want to move in with new people.

But there are other reasons that some people want to move. These include escaping from the law and wanting to lie-low because they have been kicked out of their previous accommodation. Perhaps they have had a bad relationship with their previous tenants. 

It is unlikely that new tenants are going to openly admit to these reasons but it is important during a tenant interview to ask questions to ensure their narrative rings true. If there are parts of their story that do not add up then it is clear that they might be trying to hide their real reasons for wanting to find a new apartment. 

5. Do You Have A Criminal Record?

This question requires a simple yes or no answer. If new tenants say yes during a tenant interview then you should respect their honesty. 

Ask them what they have been convicted off, the circumstances and what their punishment was. Perhaps they have served time in jail. It is up to you to decide if they have changed their ways and are a suitable person to be your tenant. 

This is not a question that anyone else can answer but yourself and you need to weigh up how trustworthy your tenant is and whether he or she would be worth taking a chance on. 

Minor Offenses

A minor offense from a long time ago in a new tenants’ life, such as stealing for a shop or vandalism could be forgiven. So too can most driving offenses However, if they have a litany of recent convictions for assault, theft or damage to property then you should think twice. 

Even a conviction for being drunk and disorderly or a DUI conviction could be problematic. They could be a violent drunk who trashes the house. If they lose their license or are sent to jail for a driving offense then they could lose their job and would be unable to pay the rent. 

If, however, your tenant is lying and tells you they do not have a criminal record then be sure to reconsider them as a potential tenant. 

If they are prepared to lie about this and to not come clean then they could lie about other aspects of the tenancy. For example, they could tell you they can afford the rent when they can’t or that the house is in perfect condition when they have damaged it. 

You can easily check criminal records with a standard background check. 

6. Do You Smoke?

This is another very important question. Smoking can make the house smell and can leave dirty marks everywhere. It is up to you whether you allow this but most landlords do not allow smoking in the house.

This is because it can ruin the furniture in a fully furnished house. 

If your tenant does smoke then it must be made clear to them that they must smoke outside the property. Provide them with a smoking area in the garden or tell them to smoke on the front of your property. Be sure to remind them that smoking through the windows is also not acceptable as it can damage the curtains. They must step fully outside of the property. 

If, during an inspection, they have broken this rule then make it clear what the consequences are, such as the end of the tenancy. Be sure to write this into the contract. 

Remember that smoking can also damage tenant and landlord relations. A tenant who smokes and then says they cannot pay rent can aggravate you as a landlord as it shows that they are spending money on luxury items rather than cutting back.

If a tenant lies to you about this during a tenant interview and you later see evidence of this then be sure to call out your tenant. Tell them that lying is not acceptable and consider giving them a warning about their behavior. 

There Are Many Important Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants 

All landlords have been there. The house is sitting empty after the previous tenant moved out and you just want to fill it so you can get the money coming in as soon as possible. 

But just picking the first person who comes along could be a disaster. It could end up losing you much more money in the long run if they decide not to pay rent or damage the property. Instead, be discerning in the person you pick. Write an advert that attracts the right people for you. Perhaps you want to be a green landlord and want tenants who share your values in running a green house. 

The questions to ask prospective tenants in the tenant interview must be penetrating. Be sure to quiz new tenants on all aspects of their previous tenancies and their life. You must ensure that the narrative they tell you fits together and holds up under questioning. 

A good tenant will follow all of the rules you have set down and will pay the rent on time every month. This is much better in the long run than taking on a tenant who pays the rent for the first month but then starts to fall behind.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a landlord be sure to check out the latest landlord news on Landlordo.