Top 8 questions to ask tenants

These questions can help you screen tenants and will give you an insight into each individual, letting identify potential issues before they arise.

If prospective tenants are sketchy and offer only vague answers, you can take this as a warning that they might not be suitable.


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1. Why are you moving?

This is a natural question. It gives you a valuable opportunity to check for any potential problems. If they’re being evicted or are involved in a dispute with neighbours or a previous landlord, this is a cause for concern.

Ordinary reasons are things like new children on the way, moving jobs or looking for more space.

2. What’s your employment situation?

The most essential thing to establish is that your prospective tenant will be able to pay the rent. Finding out about their source of income should give you a clear indication of this.

You can follow up by asking how long he or she has been with their current employer – which gives you an idea of job stability.

3. How much do you earn?

This gives you a concrete idea of the individual’s ability to cover the rent. A good general rule is that the tenants should earn enough each month to pay two and a half months’ rent.

It may be an awkward question, but you need to know how much prospective tenants earn to ensure they can cover the rent.

4. How many people will be living in the property?

This lets you know about their living situation and how many people your property will play host to. Generally speaking, two people per bedroom is the most you should consider. More people will create more wear and tear too, as well as increased chance of damage.

5. Do you have pets?

Pets shouldn’t strike a potential tenant off your list, but it may represent an additional risk. Whilst it isn’t always the case, pets could obviously scratch furnishings or make mess in the property, particularly large ones.

It’s up to you whether or not you will allow pets in your property.


>> 7 Top tips for renting with pets


6. Have you ever been evicted?

Another potential red flag is previous eviction. If somebody has been evicted before, there are potential issues you need to explore, so the natural follow-up question should be to find out why.

7. When would you want to move in?

This question can give you an idea of how sensible the prospective tenants are. Most rental properties require 30 days notice prior to leaving, so anybody who wants to move in immediately may have left things too late and therefore may not be organised and reliable.

However, if the tenant is moving from their parents’ property, from abroad or a previously owned home, wanting to move as soon as possible would not be unexpected.

8. Do you have any questions?

It’s important to give your prospective tenant the chance to ask their own questions. You may have decided they’re right for you, but they might need some clarifications or questions answered before they’re willing to move. It will also help them to decide if you’re the right landlord for them and if the tenancy will suit their situation.

Try to find as much information as you can through this process without infringing on people’s rights.

No matter how good your screening process is there is always potential for unseen problems. You may decide to take out insurance to cover the building in case of unexpected problems, such as damage to any contents you provide, theft from a tenant, or non-payment of rent.

Author: Carolyn Parrella