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Five Most Important Questions to Ask a Prospective Tenant

There is nothing worse than having the misfortune of getting a bad tenant. So, as a landlord, it is necessary, you screen tenants properly. This will prevent you from ending up in a court to try and evict the tenant. While you can still go wrong, the chances of ending up with a bad tenant is reduce substantially if you have a sound and true screening process in place.



Here are the five most important questions you should ask a prospective tenant if you want to enjoy a stress-free experience as a landlord.



Question 1: Why are you looking to move to another house or another location?



It may sound nosy to ask this question, but it can give you insight into the tenant. If a tenant is being evicted or has a bad relationship with his landlord, you may want to avoid such a tenant. Tenants who complain about their current homes are a big no-no. On the other hand, if a tenant says the change is due to job change or a bigger place for the family, you may want to proceed to the next question.



Question 2: When do you intend to move in?



Anyone who says next week or day is not good at planning. House changing takes time, as most landlords demand a 30-day notice. So, a tenant who states 30 days is the one you should go with. The last thing you need is a tenant who leaves without giving you any notice. You should also avoid tenants who give long-drawn dates for moving in. These are people who haven’t made up their minds and there is no guarantee they will rent your property.



Question 3: May I know your monthly income?



You are asking this because a tenant should make around 3 times the rent of the property to be able to afford the rent and other bills. Of course, the tenant may have other debts and obligations, but you can easily verify that with a credit check. The financial health of a tenant is critical if you don’t want hassles related to the rent later on. So go ahead and find out about the prospective tenants monthly income without feeling embarrassed.



You should ask the tenant to let you know if their income drops drastically for whatever reason. You may want to use this information to see if they can pay the rent if their income is no longer the same. For instance, if they are laid off which is not uncommon at all during this ongoing and never ending recession.



Question 4: Can you furnish your former landlords as references?



If a tenant cannot give you references, it should raise red flags. You want the contact details of landlords so that you can find out whether the tenant is responsible and don’t come with issues. Find out from the former landlords whether the person paid rent on time and treated the property nicely. You may also want to find out the reason for the tenant moving out.



Question 5: Will you fill out a formal rental application and agree to a credit and background check?



Any one person who refuses to fill out the application or doesn’t consent to a check should be refused. It basically means the person has something to hide and usually this is a poor credit history. Make sure you let prospective tenants know the requirement, so that you are not accused later on of being unfair and discriminatory.