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7 Great Questions to Ask During Tenant Interviews

A landlord who is starting a property management company meets with a prospective renter.

There’s a lot of work involved with starting a property management company. That’s because you’ll be responsible for answering tenant questions, collecting rent, solving problems, and maintaining the homes you’re managing, and you’ll need to develop a reliable method of screening tenants before they move in.

You’ll want to meet all tenants you’re considering renting to before signing any documents. This interview process is a great time to get a feel for interested renters and collect as much information on them as possible. The meeting is comparable to a job interview because, much like a business owner doesn’t want to hire the wrong person, a property manager doesn’t want to allow a bad tenant into the home. Preparing for this interview is essential but, fortunately, it gets easier the more you do it.

Selecting tenants is perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a property manager, because choosing the wrong ones could put your clients and their investment in a difficult position. This guide will take you through some of the best questions to ask prospective renters to ensure you get it right.

What to Look For in a Tenant

Interviewing tenants is an attempt at finding the ideal person or people to move into an investment property. You must know what you’re looking for in a tenant to ensure the screening process goes smoothly. Some qualities every property manager is looking for include:

A Solid Rental History

The entire purpose of conducting a background check is to find someone who has successfully rented homes in the past without issue and will continue to do so. You’ll secure references from each applicant, providing insight into their past interactions with landlords and property management companies.

Steady Employment

Another essential quality in a tenant is stable employment. Your ideal tenant should have a solid work history with the same company and should be making enough money to afford the house. You’ll ideally want to find someone whose monthly income is three times the rent.

A Good Credit Score

A solid credit score signifies that the renter is responsible with money, which could minimize issues in the future. Individuals with poor credit ratings could have significant debt, leading to difficulties coming up with rent money as they pay it off. Running a credit check will provide you with this information before moving forward.

Figuring out your ideal tenant makes the screening process far more manageable because you’ll have a clear picture of who you’re looking to find. You can then begin putting together interview questions to narrow your choices further. 

7 Great Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants

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Coming up with the right questions to ask during a tenant interview is of the utmost importance because it allows you to gather a bunch of information at one time. Asking the right questions enables you to eliminate some prospective tenants from consideration while moving others further through the process. Here are a few questions that should be on your list every time:

1. When Do You Wish to Move In?

Figuring out the renter’s timeline can help you establish whether they are the right fit. It probably isn’t worth continuing with the interview if your timelines don’t meet, so asking this question first can prevent you from wasting your time.

2. Do You Smoke?

Smoking inside a rental unit can do an incredible amount of damage, and the smell can linger for months after the tenant moves out. You might not get an honest response when asking this question, because smokers know that admitting their habit can limit their chances. Asking is still a good idea, though, because it allows you to introduce your smoking policy. You might want to implement fines or other penalties for smoking indoors.

3. Do You Have Pets?

Some landlords are fine with pets, while others don’t want them in their investment homes. You’ll want to ask this question either way, so you’re aware of animals living inside the house. Your client might wish to implement a pet surcharge or higher damage deposit if pets live there.

4. Why Are You Moving?

Learning why a prospective tenant is moving in the first place can help you undercover some underlying problems like evictions or property damage. Asking this question should coincide with inquiring where the applicant lives now and a reference from the previous landlord.

5. How Many People Will Live With You?

Few things are worse than renting out a property to an individual or couple and finding out that they’ve moved a bunch of roommates into the house with them. You’ll want to know who is living in the home so you can conduct background checks on everyone, and you should ensure there are enough bedrooms for all occupants.

6. Where Do You Work?

Figuring out if an applicant can afford to rent the home should be a priority, but you might not want to come out and question them on how much money they make. A way around this issue is asking renters where they work and their role within the company. This information can help you ballpark their earnings and estimate their ability to pay rent.

7. Is There Anything I Should Know Before Conducting a Background Check?

You might uncover problems like credit issues, past evictions, criminal history, or broken lease agreements during your background check, so it’s a good idea to give the applicant a chance to come clean. Providing this opportunity offers the prospective tenant a chance to explain the situation. You can then choose how to proceed with this new information.

Selecting the right questions provides deeper insight into who the applicant is as a person and whether the individual will be a responsible tenant moving forward. Use this interview as an opportunity to screen the tenant as thoroughly as possible to find one that will treat your property with care and respect.

The Right Tool for Screening Your Applicants

Screening tenants with a thorough interview can be very insightful. Rent Safe’s innovative software brings its own insights by allowing tenants to upload all their references, documents, and co-applicant information into a single space, helping keep you organized while starting a property management company.

Our online platform offers tenant screening software with a user-friendly dashboard that makes life far easier for property managers. This technology allows renters to submit their information electronically, and landlords and property managers will receive it instantly. Be sure to contact us for more information on how our tenant screening software can help grow your property management business.

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