Leasing: 8 Key Questions for Prospective Residents
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Leasing: 8 Key Questions for Prospective Residents

Property Management

The US real estate, rental, and leasing market is worth about 1.1 trillion USD. These numbers show that rental demand is incredibly high, and property owners, managers, and staff must find an edge over the competition.

You may want to say yes to any potential renter just to fill the vacancy quickly. However, it's ideal to invest your time in adequately screening potential residents rather than risk tenant turnover or vacancies.

How do you do this? And what are the key questions to ask potential residents during the leasing process? Let's dive into it.

What Is Tenant Screening?

Tenant screening is the process of evaluating potential tenants. Property owners, managers, landlords, and staff may carry it out to confirm the eligibility of renters, involving legal documents and interviews. Through resident screening reports, you learn about the following:

  • Criminal background
  • Credit
  • Employer references
  • References from previous landlords
  • Eviction history
  • Proof of income

Whether it's a multifamily unit, senior or student housing, or single-family home, tenant screening is essential to ensure the safety of your property and the well-being of other tenants.

Why Is Resident Screening Important?

Tenant screening requires time, effort, and money. Some property owners and managers may consider it tedious, but everyone in the property rental industry will benefit. Here are four reasons to never skip resident screening:

Late Payments

A potential resident's primary prerequisite is the ability to pay rent on time. As a property owner or manager, you know how challenging it is to chase down late rent payments. Tenant screening helps you identify a potential resident's financial status and trustworthiness, which could affect how they manage rent payments.

Property Maintenance

Property owners and managers must maintain their rental property, including regular upgrades and repairs. However, tenants also play a crucial part in keeping the property in good condition. A tenant screening report can help you learn the potential resident's stance on property maintenance, including whether they have a record of causing damage to their previous rental property.

Property Safety

Safety is the biggest priority in any property rental business. Through a tenant screening report, you can learn whether the potential resident has a criminal background and determine if they're suitable to live in your rental property.

Your Reputation

Your reputation as a property owner, manager, or staff is on the line. A resident screening process will help you protect your credibility and help guarantee future renters that you're a reliable and trustworthy property rental business. Screening tenants is also your way of ensuring that you prioritize their safety and well-being.

Questions You Must Ask Your Potential Tenants

Those who have been in the industry for a while know there's no single answer to successful tenant screening. What to ask a resident can depend on your rental market and the property type. It can also be tricky because, on the one hand, asking too many questions might turn a potential resident off. On the other hand, not asking enough questions can also lead to a wrong decision!

The leasing process is a balancing act. Here are eight standard questions you should ask your potential tenants during the leasing process:

"How long have you lived in your current home?"

Asking potential residents about their current living situation can help you learn how long they intend to stay in your rental property. Depending on your preference, you can decide whether a longer or shorter tenancy suits your needs.

"Why are you moving?"

Knowing why a potential resident is leaving their current home can give you insights into their circumstances. Is it because of financial or personal issues? Are they renting to save money for a down payment on a home? Answering this question will help you decide whether you can trust them with your property.

"How many people will be living in the unit?"

Having an idea of how many people will be living in your rental property is essential to ensure that the unit won't be overcrowded. This question can also help you determine the people living on your property and whether they are a good fit for it. A good follow-up question would be, "How many people living with you smoke?" to assess if they qualify for a smoke-free unit.

"Do you have pets?"

Some property owners don't mind pets on their property, while others prefer not to allow this. This question is important so you know if the potential resident has any animals living with them. Determining if they meet the property's pet policies is essential if you have any.

"What is your monthly income?"

Knowing a potential resident's income is essential to gauge their financial capability to pay rent. Again, depending on your preference, you can decide if they earn enough to pay and maintain the rent each month. It's okay to be more lenient with potential residents who are honest about their financial circumstances, but remember, you're running a business.

"Have you ever been convicted of a relevant crime?"

It's crucial to determine the potential resident's criminal background. Your purpose for asking this is to generally protect your tenants and property. Depending on the rental property, this question can be a deal-breaker. Some properties may not allow those with a criminal record to rent the unit.

"Have you ever been evicted?"

This question helps you determine if they have a history of rental issues. It also indicates their financial and personal responsibility since past evictions could indicate their inability to meet payment obligations. A good follow-up question would be, "Have you ever broken a rental agreement?" Potential tenants must be honest, and you'll have your references verify the information they provide.

"When would you like to move in?"

Lastly, knowing when a potential resident wants to move into your rental property can help you plan for the leasing process. You can also determine if they have the necessary documents if they're looking for a quick move-in. An exact date also helps you prepare for the transition and ensures your rental property is ready for occupancy.

Tenant Screening Tips

Finding out what to ask a tenant is helpful because asking the right questions can help you find the right people for your property. You need to stay organized, accurate, and consistent throughout the leasing process! However, asking questions alone doesn't guarantee success. You must keep the following two tips in mind:

  • Follow the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Applicable State Laws. Ask questions, but never discriminate against prospective residents based on race, religion, or other similar reasons.
  • Protect Yourself From Potential Allegations. Explain your leasing process and state what you will use the information you get from potential residents for. If they don't permit you to collect the data, you mustn't move forward with the screening process.

Streamline Your Residential Property Rental Processes With ExactEstate

Finding the right tenants is an integral part of residential property rental. As a property owner, manager, or staff in the rental industry, you must know what to ask potential residents and how to screen them properly. ExactEstate's all-in-one property management software helps you streamline and simplify your rental processes with easy-to-use tools.

From tenant screening to payments, you can keep your rental operations running efficiently and securely. ExactEstate's property management solution starts with finding the right people to rent your property. Schedule a demo with us today!

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