Pre Screening Questions to Ask Potential Tenants

You have put a lot of work into securing a good quality investment property.  So it goes without saying you want to know that you are finding the best possible tenant.  After all you are trusting them with your valuable asset. 

You want to be sure that they will look after your property and to be on time with the rent.

Pre-screening can save a lot of stress and time with people who do not meet your criteria.  This is a critical point in the process of finding the right tenant.

Save time for both you and the interested caller by conducting a pre-showing interview (over the phone or via an online form) that can help determine if they are a possible good fit.

Below are some of the pre-screening questions that you may want to ask any potential tenants.  (Note:  Please first check with your state regulations with any questions that you may not be allowed to ask).

  • Why are you moving? – This is important to firstly get up front if they are being evicted or there are other problems relating to their current place of residence.
  • When are you planning to move?  – Most rentals require 4 weeks notice, this my be (not always) be a red flag if they are needing a place urgently.
  • How long have you lived in your current home?  –  Giving you an insight into their stability.
  • What sort of work do you do? –  This should be pressed a little further to see if they are full time or casual and how long they have been with their employer.
  • How much do you earn? – Obviously important to ensure they can cover the rent.  As a general rule they should earn at least 2.5 times the amount of rent.  You may also need to take into count if there are multiple tenants.
  • What debts and monthly expenses do you have?  –  If they can’t answer this, there is likely to be a budgeting problem.
  • Can you provide references from employer and landlord? –  If they have nothing to hide.  They don’t hesitate to say yes of course. If they have excuses, this may indicate they are trying to hide something.
  • Have you ever been evicted?  – Fairly obvious “red flag”.
  • Do you agree to a credit or background check? – If they say no to this, it normally means they have something to hide.  Not ways a deal breaker, but definitely something that needs further questions.
  • How many people will be living with you?  Is this a couple, a family or a party house? Also ask how many people will be on the lease and how many are contributing to the rent.
  • Do you or anybody else smoke?  –  As a landlord, you might not be concerned, but your next tenants may well have an issue if the home has a lingering smell of cigarette smoke.
  • Do you have pets?  If so, find out what type and where do they stay? (inside/outside).  This may be a deal breaker for either of you.
  • Would you be able to pay the security deposit of ($ amount) at the lease signing? – This will give you an indication how serious they are and how financial they are.
  • Are you willing to sign a 1-year lease agreement? – Stable long term tenants are a big bonus
  • Do you have any questions for me about the process?  –  This is important to make it a 2 way street, not just an interrogation.  They also have the right to decide you are not a suitable landlord for them.

These simple pre-screening questions are a great place for you to start pre-screening potential tenants and determining if you should invest extra time in taking them to the next step of showing them the property.