7 Questions For Prospective Tenants
There are a lot of prospective tenants out there, but not all of them are good candidates to sign a new lease.
For most landlords, keeping their properties occupied already is a full-time job. The average turnover rate for rental communities nationwide is more than 50 percent. The last thing landlords want is for that rate to get any higher than it already is. If you’re a landlord, that means finding just the right tenants for your rental property is extremely important. You don’t want a tenant to end up breaking his or her lease early because of something that could have been avoided easily.
Unfortunately, a good number of landlords are only concerned about whether or not their prospective tenants can move in and start paying rent right away. But not scrutinizing these tenants more thoroughly is dangerous. A landlord may end up with tenants who might be able to pay rent for a few months but ultimately leave before their lease ends. This leaves the landlord scrambling to get the unit occupied again as soon as possible. Sometimes, failing to subject a prospective tenant to a thorough vetting process can result in a landlord’s worst nightmare. Imagine a tenant who not only can’t keep up with his or her rent. These same tenants may also have little respect for the property and the landlord can’t wait to get him or her out of the building.
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Some landlords don’t vet prospective tenants as thoroughly as they should due to laziness. Many more landlords don’t vet prospective tenants because they don’t want to pry into their lives too much. It might seem like asking for too much information, but there are some questions that landlords definitely should ask prospective tenants because their investment in their property is at stake.
Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants
Here are some of the most important questions landlords should ask prospective tenants before signing a lease:
1. Can we discuss your employment record?
A prospective tenant who is unwilling to answer even the most basic questions about his or her employment should be dropped from consideration immediately, as this is extremely important from a landlord’s perspective. If the prospective tenant agrees to discuss his or her employment a landlord should follow up with additional questions. Ask questions about where he or she is employed. Also ask what his or her monthly income is, and whether or not his or her employer could provide a reference.
2. Can we discuss your move-in plans?
It might not seem like any of your business why a prospective tenant is moving into your building. However, the answer may provide insight into the tenant’s life. It is good to know whether or not he or she has any pets; whether or not there will be other people living there; or if the move was precipitated by a major life change such as a pay cut or a divorce.
3. Can we run a complete background check?
You will need a written consent to conduct a background check, but anyone who is not willing to get one is probably not worth consideration as a tenant. Refusing to submit to a background check typically means there are some serious issues. These black marks on a prospective client’s record could include a criminal history or credit problems.
4. Can you tell us about this issue that came up during our background check?
Once a prospective tenant agrees to a background check, the door is open for other questions. You can follow up with questions about anything unusual that comes up in the background check.
5. Can we talk to your current landlord?
Experience is the best teacher, and a past landlord’s experience with a prospective tenant can teach you a lot. What the current landlord says about a prospective tenant is more than likely to be your experience as well. It’s a good idea to do your homework.
6. Can you pay a security deposit and the first month’s rent at move-in time?
This question can give a landlord a good idea of a prospective tenant’s finances and ability to pay on time. If the prospective tenant haggles with you or is reluctant to agree, it could be a sign of a serious cash-flow problem. This could become a regular problem for you. It’s better to identify those types of problems before the lease is signed.
7. Why would you make a good tenant?
Not everyone is good at expressing themselves. However, an open-ended question like this can provide you with some good insights about who he or she is as a person. It can also provide you with a sense if they are likely to be a good addition to your building. Get the prospective tenant to talk about himself or herself.
The Full Picture
Although none of these questions on their own can give you the complete picture of what kind of tenant someone will be, the answers to these questions taken together can give you a much clearer idea of whether or not someone will be a good fit for your building. Review the following guide and keep these questions in mind before you sign another lease with a tenant, and you’ll help keep the turnover in your building as low as it can be.
Author bio: Christian Moore is COO at Global Verification Network. He brings more than 20 years of experience to the organization. Global Verification Network specializes in helping a wide range of industries with screenings, background checks, records and verifications services.
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