1. What is your monthly income?
1. What is your monthly income?
This is the first question you want to ask to determine people’s ability to pay. Remember to ask for after tax total household income. This is actual amount of cash people will have to pay rent. Also ask for additional sources of income such as food stamps, child support, section 8 voucher, DSS, SSI.
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2. What is the source of income?
The source of income is very important. In case of non-payment working people have wages that can be garnished; while non-working people have government assistance that is uncollectible by you as a creditor even if you get a judgment against them. People who collect government assistance also tend to have more people in the household and higher wear and tear. Depending on the source of income you might need to ask for additional month rent/security deposit. People who have professional stable jobs are normally the best tenants. People with insurance or section 8 vouchers are great in terms of rent payments but normally cause more wear and tear. The application process with any type of voucher or government program is longer and the property normally needs to pass inspection.
3. How soon do you need to move?
The sooner the better! You want to avoid having the place vacant and minimize rental income loss. But also keep in mind that good applicants start looking for a place well in advance and in some cases you want to advertise the place before it is completely ready and rent it to people who are willing to wait. They tend to be more responsible and problem free as tenants.
4. Why are you moving?
This is a HUGE question. People will tell you the reason they are moving. They might be being foreclosed or evicted. People who want to move immediately and rush things are usually the ones who are getting evicted and saved money from non-payment of rent to previous landlord. Good residents would normally say that they have been living at the old place for a while and they need either a bigger or smaller house due to the change of household, due to relocation or graduate students.
5. Do you have any prior eviction or criminal record?
This is a tricky question and not always you will get a truthful answer. You want to do your own due diligence and do background check. If the eviction/criminal record is old you can simply ask for additional month rent/security deposit. If it is consistent and recent it would be better to turn the applicant down, they are looking for a desperate landlord. People who already know their flows will have more money saved up.
6. How many people are in your household?
Remember the bigger the family the more wear and tear. It does not make sense to rent 2 bedroom house to a family of 8. However, you can always charge higher rent due to a high number of occupants in the household. You also want to ask who these people are and how they are related to the applicant. Be careful asking age, it is not allowed to discriminate against age. Older people tend to be better with paying rent and more responsible overall. There is high liability with children under the age of 6.
7. How much are you currently paying?
You want their current rent to be close to your asking rent. If the family members are moving in together they will be able to afford higher rent if they have additional income coming in and on the other side if they are downsizing they will be looking for lower rent.
8. How much money do you have to move?
You want to ask this question very specifically and direct. If you require 1st month rent and 1 month security deposit and applicants do not have it, I would not waste my time. If they still have a month or two to move and you are willing to wait I would suggest asking for a large holding deposit. Whether you make it refundable or non-refundable upon move in is up to you. You also want to ask if they are able to come up with 2 month security deposit if you think it might be required. Asking if people have money is extremely important as you will be surprised to hear people wanting to move with 1st month rent or even partial month rent. As a landlord you need to protect yourself and make sure that you have sufficient security deposit to cover any damages, unpaid utilities and rent.
9. What kind of pets do you have?
If they have pets you can ask if they are OK with additional pet deposit and slightly higher rent or “pet fee”. Grown pets are less wear and tear. Statistically smaller dogs can cause more damage than big ones…but it’s also about how well the dog is trained by owners. The only way to see is to visit your applicant’s place. If the house they live in now is clean and well maintained, they will be clean and good residents. Certain breeds might cause your insurance rates to go up or even be cancelled. You want to check with your insurance policy and inform the residents.
10. When are you available to meet to view the property?
If the applicant is qualified according to your requirements schedule as early appointment as possible. Good applicants will find something right away. It is important to meet people and show them the place and collect rental application, proof of income, proof of identity and disclose your policy and procedures of the application process to set future expectations.
Top Ten Screening Inquiries To Request A Job Candidate When Leasing Your Home