The Five Vital Questions to Ask Your Prospective Tenants

Being a DIY landlord is a hard gig. Maintenance and legislation alone will have you constantly jumping through hoops. Add in the demoralizing effect of housing bad tenants and by the end of their term you’ll be selling the property quicker than you can say property management! To save yourself the headache that is often associated with DIY property management, Andrew from Brisbane property management team Rental Guardians knows all about dealing with difficult tenants, and has provided his top five questions to help weed out the troublemakers.

Questions to ask tenants DIY property management

Question One: Why (are you moving) ?

The reason for the move can spike big red flags. Are they moving because of an eviction or fall out with the previous landlord? Constant complainers (of their current living situation) may be revealing themselves as difficult tenants who could bring their issues with them. Look for appropriate reasons such as requiring a larger space for a growing family or changing location to suit studies/work.

Question Two: When (do you plan on moving in)?

If a potential tenant says they plan to move in ASAP i.e. tomorrow or the coming week, it is fair to assume that they are rather unorganised at lack planning etiquette. Responsible tenants will have searched in advance and devised plans to suit. In fact, it is standard procedure for tenants to notify landlords at least 30 days’ notice before the day they plan to move out. On the opposite end of the spectrum, tenants seeking to rent only after the next three months may be revealing that they are not ready for commitment and haven’t filtered through all potential properties to come to a final decision. Timing is important.

Question Three: What (is your monthly income)?

Vital question – can they afford to rent your property? Again, it is standard procedure that your tenant has an income which is at least 2.5-3 times the rental cost. It is required that your tenant is able to afford to rent as well as pay for other living costs in the process. The validity of their answer may be affected by monthly debt payments, however, you can follow this up by a credit report and a security deposit for the first month’s rent upon signing the lease agreement. Be wary of tenants who ask to pay in odd forms, for example ‘half now, half then’ payments.

Question Four: References from prior landlords and employers

Never skip on the references. Apart from high school graduates entering the big world for the first time, if a tenant is unable to provide reference or comes up with excuses, it is wise to drop them as a candidate. Rather than asking for a reference from a current landlord (who may be eager to get rid of the tenant and will withhold information of their unwanted behaviour) it is suggested that you ask for a reference from the landlord before them, as they will most likely be too happy to provide you with truthful and valuable insight. Questions to ask prior landlords are things like “did he/she provide rental payments on time,” “did he/she respect the landowner’s property and neighbours?” and “what was their reason for leaving?”

Question Five: Rental application submission a credit and background check

Obviously, anybody who refuses to undergo a credit check or submit an application should be refused then and there. By withholding concept you can assume that they are withholding information that may soil their facade (meaning they have something to hide). Ensure that you have informed them that this is standard procedure for all applicants and is simply adhering to fair housing laws -no exceptions. It is also wise to ask straight-forwardly if they’ve had any evictions, preventing yourself from having to experience a nightmare exceeding the half-year mark!

Additional Question: How (many people will be living in the apartment)?

More people equals more usage which in turn results in higher risks of damage, and shortened life spans for things. Adjusting the rent to suit the number of people or placing a limit on how many people can live in the area are wise options. It may be beneficial to determine whether or not your potential tenants own pets that may also be using the living area. Inform tenants if you have a “no pet” policy early on to prevent time-wasting and screening that will get you nowhere.