BY: HOUSERIE 11/08/2017
Running credit and criminal background checks, as well as following up on references, can help you determine who could be a responsible renter. While these checks are essential parts of the tenant screening process, there is another component you should not take for forget: the tenant interview.
Landlords should conduct an initial interview when they hear from an applicant. They can also pursue further questioning once they’ve met the interested party at a showing.
When you do the interview yourself, you’ll find that preliminary queries can give you a good sense of whether you should let someone continue an application. If the applicant makes it to the later stages of tenant screening you can recall and use your early impressions to reach a decision.
Starting all interviews with these two questions may be obvious, but they can give a lot of practical insight:
Asking somebody why they want to move allows you to determine whether the applicant has had good relationships with landlords and fellow tenants. If they answer, “My neighbors and I just couldn’t get along”, it might indicate future problems with other tenants and neighbors.
The answer about move-in dates can be just as telling. If an applicant seems to be scrambling for a new place and wants to move in immediately, you might wonder if he or she has given the previous landlord enough notice. Will you be dealing with the same problem when they leave your place?
Aside from asking a potential tenant what their income is and if they have a steady job, you should also ask questions that could indicate how well they will take care of their rental property:
Multiple people and/or pets in a rental will most likely increase the wear and tear in the unit. More importantly, if you have already laid down the rules against overcrowding and animals, the answers to these questions will help you make a decision.
Finally, there are some essential questions that need to be asked and should always be part of the rental application process:
Answering “no” to either one of these questions is a red flag!
Eemember The Fair Housing Laws prohibit queries that could seem discriminatory (or are discriminatory) and can vary from state to state.
By law, everyone should have a fair chance at renting a property. If anything in tenant screening should disqualify an applicant, it should be information like financial capacity or rental history – not that applicant’s race, color, national origin, sex/gender, familial status, or disability.
Ultimately, you must ask every single applicant the same set of basic and unbiased questions. Doing so will not only put you on the right side of the Fair Housing Law; it will truly enable you to evaluate everyone on equal terms, and make the most out of tenant screening.
In the same spirit of fairness and responsibility, you should always ask an applicant if they have any questions for you. They deserve to learn more about the place they could be living in – and decide for themselves if they could be the right fit for you.
Five Questions You Must Ask Your Potential New Tenants, Rentalutions.com
The 10 Basic Tenant Screening Questions, The Balance.com
3 Tenant Screening Questions That Are Off Limits, TheBalance.com