June 16, 2024

Thrive Insider

Exclusive stories of successful entrepreneurs

7 Fair Questions to Ask When Screening Real Estate Tenants

7 Fair Questions to Ask When Screening Real Estate Tenants

Finding the perfect tenant for your rental unit can be challenging, but asking the right questions when screening applicants can help. You should ask a variety of questions that will allow you to determine whether the applicant is reliable, respectful, and financially secure. Asking everyone the same screening questions also helps to ensure that you’re following fair housing practices, which will prevent accusations of discrimination. Here are seven screening questions you should always ask potential tenants.

1. Why Are You Moving?

An applicant’s reason for moving may reveal a lot about them. Sometimes, people move simply because they’re relocating to a new area or because they need more space. In other cases, though, tenants move because they’re in conflict with their current landlord or neighbors, which could be a red flag.

2. How Many People Will Be Living in the Unit?

The applicant may not be the only person living in the unit, and it’s important that you gather some information on the other prospective tenants as well. Additionally, there are federal and state laws restricting how many people can live in a unit depending on the number of bedrooms.

3. Do You Have Any Pets?

It can be helpful to establish a pet policy before you start the tenant screening process. If you don’t allow pets at all, this question can quickly and easily narrow down your pool of applicants. If you do allow pets, you should gather information about the number and type of pets the applicant has.

4. What is Your Employment History?

Income is one of the most important factors when choosing a tenant. Ideally, your tenant should earn about three times as much as the monthly rent. You can ask for pay stubs, tax returns, or other proof of income. You should also ask about their employment history. If an applicant jumps from job to job frequently or has large gaps in their resume, it could be a warning sign.

5. Have You Ever Been Evicted or Broken a Lease?

An eviction record will appear when you conduct more thorough background research on a potential tenant. However, asking them about an eviction history will give them a chance to explain their story. It’s also important to ask if they’ve ever broken their lease and why.

6. Have You Ever Been Convicted of a Crime?

You cannot ask an applicant if they’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, but you can ask them if they’ve been convicted. Instead of asking directly, you could also ask the applicant if they’re comfortable undergoing a background check or if there’s anything you should know before you conduct a background check.

7. Can I Have a Reference?

References from former landlords or property managers can be incredibly helpful when screening tenants. If an applicant has a rental history, they should be able to supply at least one reference. If not, it could be a sign that they’re not a great tenant.

Asking these questions to your prospective tenants is a helpful way to learn about their background and flag any issues that need further explanation. By carefully screening your applicants, you’ll set yourself up for success with your rental unit.