Whether you’re fresh out of the block, or you’ve been in the business for donkey's years, every landlord wants to find the best possible tenants for their rental property. When prospective tenants come for a viewing, that’s your chance to ask some face-to-face questions to make sure you’re happy that your tenants meet your expectations.
But before you even get to viewing stage, make sure any potential tenants are aware of your leasing criteria, such as monthly rent, break clauses, any restrictions about smoking or bringing in pets and so forth. Make sure you make it clear that a tenancy agreement is also subject to references too. This will save you both time, removing any rental candidates who can’t match your basic terms.
When you get to viewing stage, you can then delve a bit deeper into who your tenants are, so you can be confident of a stress-free let. We’ve put some crucial questions together so that you’re ready to find a tenant who ticks all the boxes.
1) Why are you moving?
It could be as simple as having grown out of their current home or needing to relocate, but this question is worth asking as it will weed out any issues, such as a recent eviction or disputes with current landlords. Whatever the answer, always speak to the tenant's current landlord before making any decisions.
2) Why are you renting?
This question will help you establish some key facts about your prospective tenants, like whether they are likely to be a long-term let, or if there are any cash-flow issues at play.
3) When would you like to move?
An obvious one, but nonetheless important. You need to establish straight off whether these tenants fit to your timeline and vice-versa, depending on the availability of your property.
4) Who will be living with you?
It’s all well and good meeting a tenant, but you need a full picture of who else might be living in your property. This is so important, particularly from a legal aspect. You need to be clear that the number of tenants doesn’t exceed the legal limit for your property. Multiple tenants also tend to be jointly liable, meaning that if one person doesn’t pay their rent on time, the others are liable for picking up that cost. All tenants need to be listed on the tenancy agreement and should each undergo formal referencing.
5) What do you do for work?
This can feel a bit personal, so make sure you ask this having established a little bit of rapport and the candidate is at ease. Asking about work will help you understand whether a tenant might be full-time, part-time, what their working patterns are – which helps you build up a better picture of them, and also answers some questions about affordability.
6) Have you ever been evicted?
If a tenant has been previously evicted, studies show that they are more likely than others to be evicted again, so it’s worth proceeding carefully. However, some evictions can be explainable, such as having different financial circumstances at the time – so make sure you ask any follow up questions, and don’t jump to conclusions.
7) Have you ever broken the terms of a rental agreement?
Again, although it’s worth hearing what a prospective tenant has to say if they have broken a rental agreement before, make sure you double check their story with the landlord in question.
8) Do you have a criminal record?
Although this will come up anyway from background checks, asking this question early will save you time. Having a criminal record shouldn’t automatically exclude a rental candidate but knowing the facts will help you decide whether you are comfortable with proceeding or not.
9) Do you have any questions for me?
This is a two-way street, and it’s in your interest to make sure that anyone viewing your property has any concerns or burning questions answered. This sort of open-ended question can also help build a clearer picture of a tenant and can put them at ease that you will be a trustworthy and reliable landlord.
So, there you have it – a ready-made set of starter questions when showing your property. But - a word of caution – you don’t want any prospective tenants to feel like they’re being interrogated. Renters want a landlord who is on hand in case of any issues, but not so demanding it feels like they are living in a glass house. Keep the tone light, build rapport, and remember, both parties need to make a good first impression.
Deciding on who to let your property to will likely end up being a mix of gut feeling and having all the information at hand. You’re only a few steps away from finding the perfect fit.