Questions to Ask Your Prospective Tenant

One of the most difficult tasks in the landlord-tenant relationship is finding a good tenant. You're in the business of renting to make a living and nothing can interfere with that living more than a poor tenant. There are a number of questions you can ask your prospective tenant in order to make sure you rent to a reliable tenant. You could likely ask thousands of questions and still run the risk of finding a poor tenant.

Compiling questions based on a few basic categories, however, is a good place to start. Any questions you ask must comport with the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination against prospective tenants on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status or disability. Since that list if fairly broad make sure your seemingly innocent questions do not cross over into discrimination.

Your first category of questions should address your prospective tenants ability to pay rent. Ask questions designed to find out what your prospective tenant's source of income is, how much he makes and how often he's paid, how long he's been employed with his current employer and his employment history. You should also ask questions regarding his credit. Ask him if there are any problems you're going to find on his credit report, whether he's declared bankruptcy and if his pay is being garnished for any reason. You should also ask questions about his expenses. Ask him how much his current rent is, why he is renting rather than buying, how much his car and credit card payments are, if he is paying child support or alimony and if he can afford the rent.

The next category of questions should address your prospective tenant's reliability. Once you find a decent tenant you want her to stay as long as possible so ask questions designed to find out if your prospective tenant has ever been evicted. If so it's a good idea to find out why. Ask for rental references in order to determine if she's reliable. Ask is she's ever been asked to vacate a rental and why. You should also ask him if she's ever been convicted and if so, what the charges were.

Finally, ask questions as to your prospective tenant's living situation. Find out how many people will be living there. Ask questions about the size of his family, how many visitors he usually has and whether family members ever come to stay. You should also find out if he has pets and if he is looking for a place that allows pets.

These categories are a good place to start. Keep in mind that you can't ask too many questions. This is, after all you're investment, so take steps to protect it.

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