10 Tenant Screening Questions To Help Find The Perfect Renter

A landlord asking screening questions from a potential tenant couple.

Finding the perfect tenant for a rental property can be a daunting task for landlords and property managers. 

It requires thorough screening and careful consideration to ensure that the chosen tenant is responsible, reliable, and trustworthy. 

With the rising number of rental scams and tenant-related issues, it has become crucial for landlords to have a solid tenant screening process in place. 

This protects their investment and helps to maintain a peaceful and harmonious rental community.  One of the key components of a successful tenant screening process is asking the right questions.

Related Webinars
Waiting List Management
Jul 16th 2024 @ 01:00 PM ET
Speaker: Gwen Volk
Learn More
People Are Stressed and Angry: Keeping Peace and Your Residents/Customers!
Jul 17th 2024 @ 01:00 PM ET
Speaker: Anne Sadovsky
Learn More
HUD Occupancy: Back to Basics (2 Days Workshop; 6 Hours of Training)
Jul 23rd 2024 @ 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Gwen Volk
Learn More

Here are the top 10 tenant screening questions that every landlord should ask to find the perfect renter:

1. What Date Will You be Moving In?

When screening potential tenants, the first thing to inquire about should be the desired move-in date. 

There’s no point in spending time on an application if the move-in date of a tenant does not align with you.

This information allows landlords to assess the tenant‚Äôs timeline and determine if it aligns with the availability of the rental property. 

By understanding the tenant‚Äôs move-in plans, landlords can effectively manage their rental properties and ensure a seamless transition for both parties. 

2. What is Your Monthly Income?

One crucial aspect of the tenant screening process involves verifying employment and income information. 

This step is essential for landlords and property managers to assess a potential tenant‚Äôs financial stability and ability to meet their rental obligations. 

Most property owners follow the 3x rule, as in, tenants who make at least 3 times the monthly rent. 

This helps ensure the tenants can afford the rent comfortably and can manage other expenses as well.  

In the end, it’s up to you as the owner how strict you want to be with this.  There may be great tenants who make a little less than 3 times the rent, but have other strengths in their application.

3. Would You Provide Contact Information for Your Previous Landlord?

Contacting previous landlords can provide valuable insights into a potential tenant‚Äôs rental history and behavior. 

By asking appropriate tenant screening questions from previous landlords, you can gather information regarding the applicant’s reliability, timeliness with rent payments, adherence to lease agreements, and past tenant behavior.

These references can offer a firsthand account of the tenant‚Äôs behavior, such as their ability to maintain the property, handle maintenance issues responsibly, and communicate effectively with the landlord. 

If a tenant refuses to provide contact details of the previous landlord, you may want to stay away from such a tenant.

4. Have You Ever Filed For Bankruptcy?

By conducting a potential tenant‚Äôs credit check, landlords can easily detect any bankruptcy from their credit history. 

Credit Check helps gain valuable insights into their financial responsibility and trustworthiness. 

A credit check also provides information on factors such as payment history, outstanding debts, and or any previous evictions. 

This comprehensive assessment helps landlords evaluate the applicant’s ability to meet their financial obligations and make timely rent payments.

5.  Are there any past convictions of a relevant crime?

By checking about any previous criminal records or records of any illegal activities, landlords can ensure the safety and security of their property and other tenants. 

This information can give insights into any potential risk factors that may arise from criminal activity.

Understanding the criminal history allows landlords to make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to maintain a safe living environment for all residents.

6. Do you have any Pets?

As a landlord or manager, you should also inquire whether the potential tenants have pets or plan to get one in the future. 

By doing this, you will be able to decide on the rent accordingly or tell them about the pet deposit.

Also, if you have a pet policy, you will be able to communicate the rules to any potential tenants and avoid pet violations.

However, rejecting a prospective tenant because of their emotional support or assistance animal will be classified as a violation of fair housing laws which protect the right of reasonable accommodation for disabled people and include allowing assistance animals.

7. Have You Ever Been Evicted Before?

In most cases, a yes in reply to this question might raise a red flag, but it shouldn’t be an automatic disqualification. 

Evictions can signal a history of late payments or property damage, increasing your risk as a landlord. 

However, consider the applicant’s explanation. Perhaps a job loss caused a temporary hardship or a misunderstanding with a previous landlord. 

Additionally, conducting a thorough check for any previous evictions ensures that the prospective renter has not been involved in any legal disputes that could potentially disrupt the peaceful atmosphere of the property. 

8. Do You Agree to Follow The Lease Terms And Restrictions

Lease terms often include details such as the duration of the lease, rent payment schedules, and any additional fees or charges. 

By openly discussing these terms while signing a lease, landlords can ensure that the tenant understands their responsibilities and obligations throughout the tenancy. 

Additionally, restrictions such as pet policies, smoking regulations, noise limitations, and noise complaints should also be addressed to maintain a harmonious living environment for all residents. 

9. How Many Occupants Will Be Living in the Unit?

By asking about potential roommates or the frequency of guests, landlords can gain insight into how the tenant intends to use and occupy the rental property. 

Local laws often set occupancy limits to ensure safety and adhere to building codes. 

By knowing how many people will be living in the unit, the landlord can confirm if the application meets those regulations.

This information is essential for ensuring that the property is not overcrowded or sublet without permission and that the tenant complies with any occupancy limits specified in the lease agreement. 

Additionally, understanding the tenant‚Äôs intentions regarding roommates or guests can help prevent any potential disturbances or violations of the terms and conditions of the lease. 

10. Confirm Contact Information And References

Confirming contact information ensures that landlords can effectively communicate with tenants regarding important matters such as lease agreements, maintenance requests, and rent payments. 

Additionally, requesting and verifying references from previous landlords or employers can provide valuable insights into the tenant‚Äôs reliability, responsibility, and overall suitability as a renter. 

Final Words

Finding the perfect renter for your property is crucial for maintaining a successful and stress-free rental experience. 

By asking the right tenant screening questions, you can gather important information and insights that will help you make an informed decision. 

Asking questions about Race, Color, Religion, Sex, National Origin, Familial Status, Physical or Mental Disability is forbidden since it can be classified as discrimination against protected classes for fair housing.

Remember to always follow applicable laws and regulations and to treat all potential renters with fairness and respect. 

Stay Updated

Don’t miss any latest Affordable Housing update

Share Now
FInd the Latest

Affordable Housing Updates

In Your Inbox

confirm your email

Your signup is almost complete! Please check your email for a confirmation message.