What Are the Best Tenant Screening Questions?

Screening tenants can be a tricky business.

You need to get good tenants into a rental property that will take care of it and maintain an investment.

You also have certain laws that need to be followed which limit the questions that can be asked.

The discrimination laws are very clear about what you can and cannot ask during the screening process.

That's why knowing the best tenant screening questions like these is such a critical component to the modern property management business.

Here are some to think about asking the next time you have an applicant.

1. Why Are You Moving To This Area?

Most people are changing houses because they are changing jobs or want to be somewhere closer to family or friends.

Answers that involve landlord conflicts, however, are red flags that shouldn't be ignored.

2. When Are You Thinking About Moving In?

Tenants that are looking for same-day services might seem like a profitable business venture, but it tends to cost more for property owners in the long-term because it is an indication of a lack of personal management.

Sometimes circumstances dictate fast moves, but when there's no other reason to move quickly than a lack of action, you might need to prepare yourself for a difficult tenant relationship.

3. What Is Your Employment History?

One of the few areas where you can legally discriminate against a potential tenant is in regards to their income.

If they don't have a stable employment history or verifiable income that meets mandatory thresholds you have for all applicants, then you can save yourself a headache by rejecting the application in many circumstances.

Local laws may vary, however, so always be familiar with what you can and cannot do.

4. Will You Consent To A Background and Credit Check?

For most tenants, this background information is part of the standard application process. It is still an important question to ask because there are always a few tenants that want to sneak in under the radar since they know they'll fail these checks.

If you get a refusal to this question, then the applicant can be immediately eliminated from the application pool.

Make sure to get their permission in writing before conducting these checks.

5. Have You Been Evicted In The Past?

Evictions are not necessarily an indicator of how good a tenant is going to be.

There are good people who on hard times and can't make their rent and this causes an eviction.

If they have a solid payment history and there's a legitimate explanation that can be verified behind an eviction, like a medical emergency, then you may be able to get a good tenant that other landlords might overlook.

6. Are You Planning On Owning Pets?

Just because you have a policy against pets doesn't necessarily mean that you can forbid all animals from being on the property.

Some perspective tenants may have service animals that they have a legal right to own and you may not have an option to reject their application solely because they have this animal.

This question will give applicants the chance to explain what animals they own and why they own them.

Asking the right questions can help a property owner find the right tenants.

Consider asking these questions and others like them during your application process so that you can limit a potential headache in the future.

Posted on Dec 16, 2014


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