Price your property well, advertise on a popular platform, and you can quickly become buried in a mountain of calls, messages, and applications of interest!
Of course, the quicker you get some tenants, the better right? WRONG!
You’re trusting someone, in most cases a complete stranger, with one of, if not the most expensive thing you own. It’s your source of income for years to come, you’ll need to fully vet anyone you come across, as you wouldn’t let just anyone come into your own home, would you?
Explained below is a general guideline of questions you could and should ask. Some may not be fully applicable, and you may even have some to add on! If so, let us know in the comments below!
Sometimes, the answer doesn’t give the whole perspective that you should make the basis of your decision on. But how its answered, is key. Response time, body language, hesitance in answering. You’ll likely determine your decision based on all of these factors.
1. Are you currently renting, if so, where?
A seemingly simple question, but you don’t want to jump into the deep end just yet! It’s the rapport building stage, and it’ll give you an idea of the circumstances of their life.
2. Can you get references from your landlord and employer?
You’ll generally be asking for references anyway but teeing them up for the expectation of one shows them it’s the norm and will contain any shock later on.
3. When are you looking to move?
Ideally, you’d have shown the availability date on your advert, so the prospective tenants date should align up with yours. If they don’t, it immediately shows incompatibility, but also that they haven’t read your advert description properly…
4. Does your landlord know you’re looking to move? (If they’re renting currently)
It’ll help showcase the currently relationship between the tenants and their existing landlord, transparency is key. But also, if they haven’t, and have a specified notice period, is it going to cause problems with your desired move-in date?
5. Have you ever been evicted before?
You’ll find out anyway whether they have or not, provided you’ve done the relevant checks. But asking early could save you time, effort, and money. Giving them the opportunity to explain the situation if they have, not all tenants that have been evicted are ‘bad tenants’.
6. Do you have a criminal record?
You should do these checks anyway, but getting information early is ideal to find out how transparent they are. It could have been something insignificant, or something major. But listening to them on all their merits may sway your opinion on people with a chequered past.
7. How long did you stay in your previous properties?
Whatever information they tell you, you’ll be able to ask previous landlords and correlate whether the information was accurate. But long-standing tenants in a previous property, with no issues paying rent? Looks like you’re heading in the right direction.
8. How long are you looking to stay in my property?
Mostly a filler question, most can’t foresee what’s to come. But a response such as, ‘How long can you have me?’ is a good indicator you’ll have some long-standing tenants.
9. How many occupants will there be?
Just because a certain amount of people can fit in the property, doesn’t mean they should. There are legal aspects to consider too, such as who will be sharing, ages and genders of children as well as their relationship to the applicant too.
10. Why are you moving?
It’s a simple question, that usually requires a simple answer. Whether it’s as simple as needing to down-or-up-size, or being served a notice, will help you determine your thoughts on having them as a tenant of your own.
11. Do any of the occupant’s smoke?
Even if they do, you’ll find many will be ‘economical’ with the truth and tell you what you want to hear. Whether they tell you they don’t smoke, or tell you they do, and say ‘They smoke outside’. Which can seem unlikely, can you picture them standing out the back door for a few minutes, in the midst of winter.
12. Do you, or any of the other occupants have pets?
In most cases you cannot outright say ‘no pets’, and if you do, you’ll have to provide a plausible reason as to why not, such as it not being suitable for that particular type of property. Assess the question on its given response, a contained fish-tank, or hamster, is different to a potentially hair-shedding Labrador.
13. What do you, and any other adult occupants do for a living?
This’ll help build their lifestyle in your mind. Have they been working with the same company/industry long-term? What is the nature of their career? Could it impact or detriment the condition of the property? Are they home, or office-based?
14. What is the monthly/annual income of all working occupants?
Maybe an awkward question, but nonetheless a necessary one. Ideally the minimum total income monthly should be approximately 2.5x the asking rent. It helps give you some scope on whether the rent is attainable for them, or if it’s stretching their budget (in your opinion).
15. Do you have a required deposit, and first months rent readily available?
The answer should be a relatively swift, ‘yes’. When looking for a property, ideally the idea of having these funds upfront should have already been thought-out. Most people only get paid 12 times a year, the last thing you want is having to chase overdue rent 12 times a year.
16. Do you have a guarantor willing to support your application and tenancy?
Not a must, but could be the deciding factor if choosing between two closely suited applicants. Ideally a guarantor should earn no less than 3x the asking rent, as you should consider that they’ll have their own personal outgoings and expenses too.
17. Any questions you’d like to ask me?
This sequence shouldn’t be a one-sided process. Be open and willing to answer any-and-all questions thrown your way. Just as you’ll be stuck with tenants for a while, they’ll also be stuck with you. So, it’s important all queries are addressed to ensure both parties are satisfied with one another.
Of course, this list is only a guideline to help you follow a consistent process through the interview stage. Some questions may not be relevant, and there may be some that you’ll want to add for your own circumstances.
And the end of the process, it’ll hopefully given you an insight and deeper perspective into the applicants lives and mindsets, to determine whether they’ll be the ones to tenant your property, or not.