8 great questions to ask prospective renters.

Having a standard set of questions that you ask every potential tenant can make life lot easier. This is the first step of a successful screening process.

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A successful screening process will lead to a successful relationship with your renters. Here are eight great questions you can ask potential tenants to make sure you're finding a good fit for your rental property.

Why are you moving?

Asking this question can help uncover red flags. You want to find a tenant who’s moving for a legitimate reason, like a relocation, a new job in a new neighborhood or the need for more space to accommodate a growing family.

How long have you lived in your current residence?

If a tenant has lived in seven different apartments in the past five years, odds are they’ll continue the pattern. You want a tenant who will sign a yearly lease - and hopefully stay for longer than that.

When do you want to move in?

Tomorrow?!? Whoa, slow down! While at first, a tenant who wants to move in really fast might seem great, but as with any relationship, proceed with caution. Most landlords require 30 days notice from tenants. This could mean they’re bailing on their current landlord without much notice. Or they’re just poor planners. Get the scoop.

Can I call your former landlord and employer for references?

With the exception of someone moving straight out of their parent’s house, most tenants should be able to provide a landlord or employer reference. Here’s a quick tip from our rental experts: Ask former landlords simple things like “Did they pay rent on time?” / “Did they respect the property and neighbors?” / “Why did they move out?”

Will you submit a rental application and consent to a credit and background check?

This is pretty straightforward. You should probably disqualify anyone who refuses an application and credit check. If they won’t consent, it usually means they have something to hide or they know their credit isn’t good enough. If you’re following your screening process, let them know this is a requirement of all applicants, that you treat everyone equally, and that you can’t make exceptions.

What’s your monthly income?

Typically you want tenants to have income that is 2.5 to 3 times the rent amount. You can follow this up by asking them if they’ll have the security deposit and first month’s rent available upon lease signing. Knowing this, combined with their income, gives a great indication of their financial health.

How many people will be living in the apartment?

More people simply means more wear-and-tear. You’ll either want to adjust the rent, security deposit or restrict the number of people. In fact, in many states the law dictates that a residence cannot have a lease with more than 2 people per bedroom.

Do you have any pets?

What’s your policy on pets? If you allow them, but have restrictions on the number or size of pets, this is the time to let the applicant know. Now might also be the appropriate time to let them know of any pet fees/deposits you may require for their furry friend(s).