Questions to Ask

It is crucial to find the right tenant for your property to be a successful business. If you don’t want it to be turned into a circus, you may have to work hard to get a good tenant. Seemingly endless interviews, elimination processes, and such other matters can take up a lot of your time and energy. Finally, when you arrive at the final deciding point, choose a tenant that will help you achieve a better rental income stream. By chance, if you make a wrong choice, it is certain to cause an undesirable situation for both, the renter and the landlord.

The stakes are extremely high when it comes to picking up the right contender for your property. As we all know how damaging a sub-par renter could be with a lot of issues. The costly damages to the property, neglecting monthly rental payments, disruptive nature towards the neighbors, and others can cause stress and headaches to you. A small example of your tenant not paying the rent can cause you a lot of trouble. You will have to struggle in keeping a track of him and trying to keep your financial obligations timely.

All this may be followed by a costly eviction process that may end up taking weeks. This would also cost you thousands of dollars. This time-consuming process can also have bad, unpredictable outcomes that may disrupt your rental business and break your financial reserves. Being a property owner, you need to know how to succeed at this game. Keeping a few tricks up your sleeves will help you in the long run.

If you want to avoid any tenant issues it is better if you keep your foundation strong. As tenants start approaching your property, be prepared to initiate the process of tenant screening. This will help you in selecting the applicants properly and smoothen the rest of the process. Tenant screening can be understood in the following steps:

  • Start tenant screening at an early stage of renting process.
  • Make a clear checklist of renters you are looking to keep in your rental property.
  • While updating rental ads and listings mention those criteria.
  • Talk to the applicants while showing them around the rental property. This will give a perfect idea as to who you are dealing with.
  • After collecting the names of the best candidates, you can give them the rental applications to fill up. As you have gained an insight into what the applicant is all about, you can jot down some of the best questions that need to be answered.
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Knowing all the laws applicable to you as a landlord and your rental property business, you must know that all the applicants should receive the same copy of the rental application. According to Fair Housing Law, one must ensure compliance and objectivity towards the law and request the appropriate question to the applicants. This will help you in sorting the good renters from others and give you proper grounds to reject those who don’t meet your criteria.

Questions to be added in your rental application

Before you start preparing questions in your rental application, it will be best to take legal counsel. Being aware of the requirements in the jurisdiction of your state is important.

  1. Please provide personal information
  2. When would you like to move in?
  3. Who all will be living on the property?
  4. Are you employed?
  5. Do you smoke?
  6. Have you been evicted before?
  7. Do you have pets? Or would you like to keep one in the future?
  8. Provide any good references.
  9. Are you willing to authorize a full background check before you move in?
  10. Have you been convicted before? Please state the circumstances.

The above questions will cover everything about the tenant that you would be interested in knowing. In case you have any other requirements, you could ask questions accordingly. But these are the most basic questions that will give you a lot of information about the tenants in one instance.

Tip: Having legal counsel help you with the procedure will be a bonus. Following the blog will only help you with a general idea, but when you are dealing with rental property business it is best to ask for legal advice from an expert.

If you can opt for tenant screening services from a trusted property management company, you won’t have to worry about anything. From preparing rental applications to seeking legal advice, they will get everything done. Still, if you are confident to go ahead of yourself, you can ask the following questions and get the information that you need.

Importance of application questions

1.      Personal information

Personal information is the first thing that is asked for in a kind of document. Whether it is a bank or to get a phone you need to provide basic information about yourself. So, the prospective tenants must provide basic information about themselves such as:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Current address
  • Gender
  • Age
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During a full background check-up, you can get the information verified. As a landlord, you must look out for fraudulent or invalid information while reviewing the application. It would seem very immature as to who would provide wrong basic information. You should know, according to the reports:

  • Around 95% of property management service providers face fraudulent cases and have difficulty in pinpointing the fraud.
  • In the last 2-3 years many property management companies have experienced fraud cases up to 20 times.
  • More than 73% of the businesses identified fraud cases after moving in of their tenants.

There are many other such reports, and they have staggering facts. It is for this reason that the rental property business is witnessing damaging consequences, such as:

  • Wasted money and time in finding proper applicants
  • Increased rate of eviction cases
  • Damaged reputation, among others

2.      Lease start date

When you are interviewing the prospective tenant, you will most probably ask when he or she is going to move in. This may seem like any other normal question, but it has a lot of significance attached to it. Just as any other business, even your rental property business has a profitable or less profitable listing time of the year. So, before you prepare a new lease agreement, make sure you do it at the right time.

It is observed that the rent prices are supposed to be at their lowest between December and March and at their peak in between May and September. According to the reports collected by the Landlords solution, this difference between the rental agreement and lease can have a bad impact on your rental property business.

A rental agreement is made every month whereas a lease is a half-yearly or a yearly contract. Leases are better for the landlords if they are looking for steady long-term tenants. In case you are willing to go with month-to-month agreements, it could help you be flexible and go for a short-term supplemental income.

3.      History of eviction

You may observe that being a landlord brings in two concerns while selecting a renter:

  • Nonpayment of the rent on a timely basis
  • Eviction history
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If your main source of income is from the rentals you get every month then you can’t afford to have a sub-par tenant who has had an eviction history. So, it is very important to add this question to your rental application. You can’t simply rely on the answers given by the applicants, you have to run a background check on them as well. If they have had past eviction history you can predict their behavior in the future.

In the database of trusted property management companies, you will find the results of the eviction history of most applicants. They include:

  • Failure to pay rents timely
  • Unlawful detainers
  • Tenant judgments for rent
  • Writs and warrants of eviction
  • Tenant judgment for money and possession, etc.

You can also try reference check to find more about the rental history of the applicants. So, while getting information ask them to provide valid references which can be checked before you can sign the lease. While checking the reference you can ask the following questions:

  • Did the tenants keep the property in good condition?
  • Was their rent payment regular and steady?
  • How was their behavior and relationship with the landlord and the neighbors?
  • Were there complaints such as noise complaints from society?
  • Why are they moving?

There are many reasons for the tenants to move from their previous apartment. It’s up to you to cross-check the reason and derive a result for the same.

Getting a good tenant on today’s date is very difficult. There is too much competition as well. So, you need to up your game. Asking valid questions will not only get you good tenants but also keep you safe from troubles in the future. If you are feeling helpless you can always call property management companies in Baltimore to help you out.