The Seven Vital Screening Questions for Tenants

Signing landlord tenant agreement
Added on September 2nd 2021

While you can get a good idea about a potential tenant’s financial and job security from credit checks and employer references, it’s not all about the money when it comes to finding the best people to let your property to.
Just paying the rent on time isn’t the be-all and end-all of a great tenancy agreement. You have to get along with your tenants, to trust them and to feel confident that they’ll look after your rental property rather than trashing it and fleeing suddenly.
Here are the seven best screening questions to ask prospective tenants before you decide who gets the keys to the door.

Are you renting at the moment?

This is a good ice-breaker and will probably lead on nicely to your prospective tenant explaining why they’re moving and thereby giving you some extra insight into their situation.

Will your current landlord give you a good reference?

You’ll be asking for references, or your letting agent will be, but you may well get some extra detail that isn’t covered by a formal reference. The tenant might mention that they’re sad to be leaving because they always had nice chats with their landlord and enjoyed looking after their garden (clue: this is a good sign).

Does your current landlord know you’re moving?

They almost certainly do, but again, this gives extra insight into the situation. If your prospective new tenants are a little cagey about this, then they may treat you with the same disregard. If the landlord is selling the property that they’re in, then there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Have you ever broken a rental agreement?

This may well show up in a reference, but you should always give prospective tenants the opportunity to give their version of events. There may have been a legitimate and unavoidable reason for the break that will have no impact on your tenancy agreement.

Why are you moving?

If your new tenants are moving because the landlord is selling up, or they’ve moved for work or they’ve had another baby, then these are positive reasons. If they’ve gong through the eviction process, you need to find out more. Don’t automatically write someone off because of “negative” reasons – not all landlords are as good as you and some will abuse their position.

How long have you been at your current property and how long do you plan to rent mine for?

Ideally, you’ll find out that your new tenant has lived at their current place for a few years and has good reasons for moving. This leads nicely into asking how long they’ll want to live in your property. Again, they should be looking for a long-term deal.

What do you do for a living and do you enjoy it?

This question will give you some idea about the person you’ll be letting your property to and their lifestyle, as well as about their job security. Asking them if they enjoy their job is important because job satisfaction is a good indicator of how long someone is likely to stay in their role. You don’t want a tenant who has frequent spells of unemployment or who simply decides one day to pack it all in and start a new life as a goatherd in Dagestan.

Do you have anything you want to ask me?

This bonus question lets your prospective tenant find out more about you and your property. A rental agreement is a two-way street and someone looking to rent your place might have other options if they feel you’re not a good fit for one another

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