Questions to ask prospective tenants

You’ve just listed your very first rental property for rent and now you start to get the email inquiries. Excitement, fear, apprehension. Maybe even not knowing what to do.

Guess what, that’s normal. You’ve come to the right place. Like you, I started out just the same way, I was maybe a few steps ahead of the tenant, but not by much. In all honesty, I had absolutely no idea what to ask this tenant:

1. When are you looking to move for?

This is the first question I always ask a prospective tenant. It matters whether they want to move in ASAP, next month or 6 months from now, doesn’t it? 

2.          Why are you looking to move?

You need to ask this question and understand the reason behind the prospective tenants’ move as asking this question may provide insights into their true motives, past issues, or things such as a recent separation, maybe even an eviction.  A few reasonable explanations for their move may be because they’ve outgrown their current apartment or want to shave time off their work commute.

Whatever you do, don’t take an applicants’ answers at face value. Make sure you follow up with a landlord reference check to help ensure you don’t accept a tenant who won’t pay rent on time or is in the eviction process.  

3.          How long have you lived at your current rental property?

Asking how long they have lived at their current home is a smart question to ask. If they seem to lack stability and are hopping around from property to property, chances are that they’re likely to do the same to you, leaving you with a vacancy to fill.

4.          How many people are moving in to the property?

You want to make sure there are enough bedrooms for all who will be staying in the rental and that you don’t exceed legal limits. Five friends looking to move into your one bedroom apartment might not be a good fit.

5.          What is your monthly income? 

One of the top concerns of many landlords are payment problems. During COVID-19, this has only been exasperated by many tenants not being able to pay the rent. The industry standard is a monthly income that is three times the rent. This gives the tenant enough to spend on other expenses and keep a cushion in case any costs like car repairs or medical expenses should arise. 

6.           Have you ever broken a lease early?

In some cases, an applicant might have moved out not necessarily due to eviction, but because they broke their rental agreement and ended the lease early. In some cases, this may be understandable—such as in the case of new construction or unruly neighbors—but without significant reason, this could be a red flag. Make sure this is one of the questions you ask a previous landlord during a landlord reference check to verify the provided information.

These are crucial yet important questions we ask all of our tenants that we place in investors properties and would do the same if we were to work together. Interested in learning more or putting Welcome Home to work for you? Let’s see if we might be a fit.