Tenant Interview – Some Important Questions to Ask

Property Management Blog

Almost all landlords have one thing in common; they all want long-term contracts with their tenants. But it’s not easy to find a tenant that you can keep for long. The perfect tenant is hard to find, landlords need to go through an extreme phase of tenant screening, interviewing, and checking references to get that one perfect tenant, and that’s not even guaranteed. So, what are some foolproof ways to get that perfect tenant, you may think? 

Apart from tenant screening and background check, there is also the matter of personal interviews with the tenants; in these interviews, you can gauge a lot about the guy you will be letting into your rental property . If you aren’t too sure about what to ask the potential tenant, here’s a variety of questions that will help you understand your potential tenant a bit better. 

What Is the Reason for Searching a New Property?

This is the most common question out there, but it’s the one that you should never avoid or ignore asking. Also, listen to the answer carefully, were they evicted, did they get a new job, are they moving from an old neighborhood? All these are probable causes for leaving the last rental. 

Recommendations, if any?

Never accept people without proper recommendations. Every tenant has a history of employment or other rentals. Ask for referrals; ask your potential tenant if their former landlord or current employer can vouch for them. Once you have asked for them, carefully assess their answers. Did they stammer? Are they looking for excuses, or did they confidently say yes to your question? This will help you understand whether your potential tenant has a good history with their old landlords. 

Move-In Date?

Asking about the possible move-in date is important, although it may not seem at first. If your potential tenant wants to move in under a day or two, they aren’t responsible as you have to send in a 30-day notice to your landlord before moving out; this means that he or she isn’t responsible enough to give time to the old landlord to find a replacement. 

Of course, there are many sane reasons as to why a tenant would be eager to move-in in a day or two, like a new job, a recent move to a new place, or even a pay cut. However, if your tenant fails to offer a legible excuse, know that there is something amiss and be vigilant.

Current Salary:

The most important thing for the landlord is to keep the rental occupied and get a steady cash flow. That steady cash flow comes from the tenant’s pocket, so you need to ask your tenant how much they make per month. Your tenant’s salary should always be two and a half times more than the rent rate. So, if you are asking $2000, the tenant should make at least $4500. If the tenant makes less, they will always struggle to pay the rent and get late on rent payments; this isn’t a headache you should be taking on yourself. Apart from the salary, the landlord should also be aware of loans, debts, and other responsibilities that might make the tenant late on rental payments. One of the most important parts of screening a tenant is a credit check, so ensure that you have their credits report in your hands before you interview your potential tenants. 

How Much Advance Can They Pay?

When it comes to advance payments, the landlord should be extremely frank as well as clear with their tenants. The potential tenant should know what they need to pay in advance; most of the time, the tenants need to pay the first month’s rent as well as the security deposit in advance. 

If your potential tenant keeps asking you for time to pay the pet and security deposit, know that this isn’t the kind of guy you should be taking on. Avoid giving monetary favors to your tenants, or you will get stuck with a tenant who is always asking such favors or one who is always late on payments. 

Eviction History:

The past dealings of your potential tenant are very important; you need to know whether they have ever been evicted, had they ever been in dispute with their former landlord? All of these questions may seem awkward to ask, but all of them are important questions. Know that no tenant is a perfect tenant, just as no landlord is a perfect landlord. We all have our shortcomings, but how big or small these shortcomings are, is the important question. 

A background check, a call to a former landlord or employer, as well as a credit check, will tell you a great deal about your potential tenant’s past dealings. However, you should always ask the tenant all these questions just to get what they have to say about the past situations. 

Will They Be Renting With Other People?

This may seem like a silly question, but this is a very important question regarding the municipality restrictions. Ask your tenant about how many people will be moving in with them. This will help you avoid overcrowding as well as also ensures a risk-free rental agreement. 

Apart from that, fewer people or pets mean less damage and wear and tear to your rental. Always have two people in a one-bedroom rule for your rental property  to keep things running smoothly. 

Lifestyle And Habits:

One of the most important questions that landlords forget to ask and pay dearly later is the lifestyle. As a landlord, you must be aware of the habits as well as the lifestyle of your tenant. This may seem like a personal thing to ask, but it is very important. You don’t want a party animal in your house, who keeps inviting guests over and have raging parties. You also don’t want a drug addict who would be smoking or selling drugs in your rental. So whether you feel like it's a personal question or not, you must ask the tenant about their lifestyle, habits, and other such things.

If you’d like to talk more about property management, or you need help with Everest Property Management, please contact us at Everest Realty.

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