Among the highest risks a landlord takes when leasing their property is the tenants they choose. Though background checks and references provide plenty of information on potentially problematic renters, some issues can still slip through.
Savvy landlords can catch these challenging tenant behaviors with some pointed questions and observations. These questions seek need-to-know information without invading a tenant’s privacy or violating the law.
7 questions to ask a potential tenant
Eventually, the decision to lease to a tenant always comes down to trust. These seven questions can help landlords make leasing decisions in confidence:
- Why do you want to move? Knowing a tenant’s reason for moving can help landlords recognize potential conflicts before they happen.
- How long is your current tenancy? Knowing how long someone stayed in one location can show a lot about their personality, living habits and plans.
- What is the household’s monthly income? Landlords typically expect a tenant to make two and a half times the monthly rent.
- How many people are in your household? All buildings have tenancy limits. Additionally, more tenants equal more maintenance and higher costs to upkeep.
- Do you have employer or landlord references? If a tenant hesitates to provide employer or tenant references, they may have something to hide. Do not rent without references.
- Do you consent to a credit and background check? Tenants who refuse a background check also have something to hide. Do not enter into financial agreements with anyone refusing a background check.
- Have you ever received an eviction notice? Evictions cannot remain secret but asking this allows the renter an opportunity to explain their side.
Landlords can bring legal questions to an attorney
Landlords with additional questions about thoroughly vetting potential tenants can find answers with a local lawyer familiar with real estate law and landlord/tenant disputes. An attorney can help review legal claims, draft rental agreements and lend counsel.