If you’re a landlord, you know that renters are the lifeblood of your business. You also know that finding the right renters will help you avoid problems such as late payments and evictions. Tenants need to be a good fit when it comes to you working with them and tenants also need to get along with neighbors. It’s up to you to figure out if you should accept a potential renter’s application or deny it. At the end of the day, you’re the gatekeeper and it’s up to you to choose the best tenants for your properties.
Asking the right questions will help you gain a better understanding of who you are talking to. Below are questions you should always ask when meeting with potential renters.
Why are you looking for a new place to live?
This open-ended questions will help you have a better idea of why a potential applicant is interested in your property. You may be able to learn some information that will help you understand the background of the interested party.
For example, it’d be good to know if the potential renter wants to move to your neighborhood to be closer to the local university. A tenant seeking more opportunities tends to be a good tenant to have. The same goes for a tenant who just landed a new job nearby. It’d also be good know if the applicant wants to move to your property because he/she was recently evicted. Knowing that the applicant was evicted is a red flag. This background information will help you be better prepared since you need to know who you’re working with.
Do you have a regular income? If so, will you verify it with a pay stub and/or tax returns?
It’s always in your best interest to verify income. There’s a good chance you didn’t buy rental properties for the sake of having them. People who don’t have a source of income should not be your tenants. If you choose a tenant without an income, you’ll be left to pay the mortgage on your own. Here’s a list of documents that will help you know if an applicant has the means to pay rent each month:
- Court ordered agreement
- Tax returns
- Profit and loss statement
- Social security benefits
- Bank statements
- Letter from employer
- Severance statement
Collecting these documents from potential tenants may take some time but it’ll save you from a great deal of stress. It’s not a bad idea to request at least two of the documents mentioned above. For example, if you only ask for bank statements, it may not show an individual’s true earnings if the individual has non-traditional income such as a commission-only salesperson.
Do you have any references I may speak with?
Always ask potential tenants for references you can follow-up with. The references can be a combination of professional connections and people who have been friends of the applicant for at least three years.
Your conversations with people the potential tenant has referred you to will help you gain a better grasp of the potential tenant’s work ethic and character. If you don’t know who to ask for, this list should help:
- Previous landlord/current landlord
- Work manager
- Previous employer
- A mentor from youth/childhood
- Family friend
- Old roommate
Always remember the basics of the Federal Fair Housing Act when asking questions about the rental applicant. Everyone who applies to rent from you should be treated fairly.
How long will you be renting the property?
Are you looking for long-term tenants or short-term tenants? Don’t forget to ask potential renters how long they want to rent from you. Long-term tenants help you avoid having to look for new tenants every few months. If a potential renter doesn’t plan to stick around for very long, the renter may not be the best choice for you.
For more questions about how to find the right tenants, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vision Real Estate is a full-service brokerage! We specialize in property management and are experts in the Utah County market. Because of our expertise, we are able to provide a complete range of services to meet the needs of all property owners and tenants.