Every landlord’s nightmare is a nightmarish tenant. After all,while you may not have to live with this person, you will be associating with them on a regular basis and trusting them to live in and care for your establishment. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to sort out the bad weeds, so to speak, and find out whether or not a prospective tenant will be bad news.First of all, it is always valuable to find out why the tenant is moving from his or her previous locations. Chances are, the answer will be something typical — relocation because of a job, needed a change, etc. However, if the person is hesitant to answer, avoids the question, or seems to have a difficult time explaining the situation, this might raise a red flag. This is an easy question to ask and answer, and it can potentially bring to light whether the tenant was evicted or chose to leave based on legal problems, social drama, or some other negative reason.
Another way to screen prospective tenants is to inquire about the person’s financial situation. While it would be unfair to totally discriminate against some based on their finances, the fact is that you want to collect rent from this person and you want it on time. If an apartment costs $1500 monthly to rent and the potential tenants are only making $12,000 a year, they will not be able to afford this apartment and it will only cause problems in the end. Other financial screening questions may involve whether or not they will be able to provide you with the security deposit upon moving in on the first day. If the person asks for an extension or seems as though they may have trouble coming up with the money, be weary. Negotiating on the security deposit leaves the landlord at risk of paying for potential damage.
Finding out when a tenant plans to move in can speak for them in terms of responsibility. While there are extreme circumstances such as a cut in salary or domestic abuse that could cause a tenant to need to move very quickly, the average renter generally starts looking for an apartment about a month before he or she would need to move in because most landlords require 30 days notice to terminate a lease. Termination of a lease sooner than that could mean that the tenant was causing problems or left without terminating the lease at all.
One of the best and most crucial elements of the screening process is to submit the potential tenant to credit and background checks. This is not something that should be optional or negotiable. If they have a problem with allowing you to run these checks, they are trying to hide something. Also, do not forget that verbal agreement is not legally binding — you must have the person sign a document agreeing to undergo both credit and background checks before moving into the space.
The final two questions that should be asked when screening potential renters are how many people will be living in the space and whether the person owns pets. You should account for around two people per bedroom depending on the size and sleeping arrangements of the home or apartment they will be renting. The less people living in an area, the less risk of damage being done to the building. Also, most fire departments and municipalities place limits on the number of people allowed to live in an area, especially concerning apartments. Stuffing too many people into a space can be a safety and health hazard. Concerning pets, if the renter has a pet when the “no pet” rule is in place, it is best to immediately rule them out, as most people will not be willing to get rid of a pet. If you are accepting of pets, you should ask what kind of animal it is, whether it might be considered dangerous, whether it is updated on shots, if it will live inside, etc. Personal discretion should be used when it comes to allowing animals into apartments or rental homes.