Top 6 Questions to Ask Potential Tenants - Property Vista

March 12, 2019

Top 6 Questions to Ask Potential Tenants

The right tenant is every landlord’s dream – the person who pays the rent on time, and respects the property and neighbours. So, when multiple people call to see your property, is there a way to help pre-screen these potential tenants to ensure a good fit? Yes, there is. Simply have these six questions on hand.

When Are You Moving?

Start with the simple stuff. If the date is before the current tenant has moved out, or is too far away, it simply might not be logistically possible. Also, if your potential tenant has an aggressive move-in date, like within a few days or a week, it can trigger some red flags. While there are always extenuating circumstances where people might have to move suddenly, in general, responsible people plan ahead at least a month in advance of their move. This question can help you A) figure out if the timing works and B) give you insights into your potential renter’s character.

How Long Have You Lived in Your Current Home and Why Are You Moving?

Okay, this is two questions in one, but asking about the duration of their past and present rentals will reveal a little about your candidate tenant’s rental pattern. If they seem to lack stability, hopping about from one place to another, there’s a much higher likelihood that they’re going to do the same to you, leaving you with a vacancy to fill.

And, always, always ask why the person is moving. There are a million legitimate reasons people want to move – to be closer to work; to be in a more desirable neighbourhood, to find a bigger place, or conversely due to kids moving out or a lower paying job, some people want a smaller place. Warning sign answers involve disputes with the landlord or neighbours. It’s not a deal-killer, but definitely a “proceed with caution.” And, be sure to contact the landlord.

Do You Have Any Pets that Will Be Moving In With You?

If you allow pets, you can then talk to them about any restrictions on the number of kind of pets allowed. You may have a no dogs or cats policy, but the prospective tenant may have a guinea pig. Of course, if you have a no pets policy, you can end the conversation there.

How Many People Will Be Living in the Unit?

The fewer number of people in your available unit, the less the wear and tear. A group of five friends moving into your bachelor apartment are probably not a good fit as tenants.  And, just as importantly, you want to make sure it doesn’t exceed any local bylaws or fire codes for the number of people in a unit. For instance, Toronto says that you cannot exceed one person for each nine square metres of habitable room floor area, and for bedrooms used by two or more people, the minimum floor area of a room used for sleeping shall be four square metres for each person. Be sure to know any applicable laws.

What’s your Monthly Income?

Quite simply, you need to know if the prospective renter can afford your property and this is the question that will help nail that down. The ideal is that a tenant spends 30% of their income on rent, however, in cities like Vancouver and Toronto, that percentage is higher. Of course, you will also need to run a full credit check, as there may be issues like debt and unpaid bills.

Can You Pass a Background and Credit Check?

Let your prospective renter know that once they see the place and if they are interested in applying that every application undergoes a background and credit check. This is your process and there are no exceptions. If the person calling about the unit doesn’t want to adhere to your process, then they probably aren’t a good fit.

Consistency and What Not to Ask

If you are asking any of the questions above, you need to ask the same pre-screening questions to each and every potential tenant in the same manner. Otherwise, you may be accused of discrimination. And, never ask questions about plans to have children, ethnicity, disabilities and other discriminatory questions. (Check out this article on how to avoid housing discrimination.)

How Tenant Management Software Helps

Once you’ve pre-screened and shown the apartment to your potential, tenant management software can help you streamline the application process. Your potential renter can apply online, 24/7, and the software ensures that all needed information is captured. There is even a section for guarantor info, if needed.

At Property Vista, we have integrated an automated approval tool, taking a part of the renting cycle that’s heavy on paperwork right off your plate. Our system uses a state-of-the-art algorithm to analyze more than 30 points of interest, such as credit score and debt, income and required rent. You’ll eliminate applications that do not meet your approval without having to lift a finger. Sound interesting? Check out pricing and arrange a demo for our tenant management software solution.

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Jack Beaton Sterling Karamar, Property Management
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