The Potential Tenant Interview
The tenant interview is perhaps the most important part of the screening process. You can only get so much information from credit reports, employment records, financial statements, and even previous landlord references. If a tenant’s application passes the early tests, the interview is the place where you have one final chance to catch those red flags.
Yet, many landlords fail to make the most of this opportunity. Here are some things to do during the interview that will help you determine if they’re the right tenant for your property:
· Follow all of the rules. There are things you can ask and things you cannot ask. Issues of race and religion are off the table, and can bring serious legal headaches if you’re not careful.
· Start with the rental application. The information on the rental application should be a good springboard for discussions. Before the interview, circle a handful of items on the application as topics you’d like to bring up. Pull aside anything that jumps out at you, and be ready to ask about it.
· Discuss their employment. Even if you have a completed application with employment dates, or even if you’ve talked to their employer, ask what they do and for whom. Make sure that the dates they tell you match (at least within a reasonable amount of time) what they put on their application. Tenants with long-term employment are a safer bet than those who have only been with a company for a little while.
· Ask who will be living with them. Find out how many children will be living in the property, if any. Ask if anyone other than immediate family will be living with them. Ask about pets, and make sure you clearly articulate any pet policy you have in place.
· Inquire about credit problems. If you ran a full credit report (which you should) ask about any glaring issues. A few slow payments aren’t much to be worried about, but defaulted loans or collection activity should be discussed. In many cases, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, and the issue may be resolved. In other cases, it can let you know they’ve got real financial trouble.
· Talk about length of stay. Explain various lease options (such as a month-to-month contract). This helps you in a number of ways. For example, if you have two roughly-equal tenants and one wants to stay for two years while the other wants to say for three months, the safer bet is the longer-term tenant.
· Get to know the potential tenant. There’s only so much you can learn about a person in a relatively short interview, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn all you can. Sometimes, you’ll just have a gut reaction (good or bad) when talking to a given tenant. Those instincts can, in some cases, save you a ton of headache.
Urban City Rentals wants you to find the best tenants out there. Our extensive experience in tenant screening help match you up with the right tenants for your property. Click here to learn more about our rental property management services or contact us today at 604-677-7369.