Every landlord wants awesome tenants. These are the tenants who keep the place clean, pay rent, report maintenance issues, and don’t complain often. However, as most landlords in Memphis can attest, getting such a tenant isn’t an easy task.
Getting a good-quality renter requires a lot of homework. And, most of this homework involves screening each and every renter to determine their suitability to rent your property.
Typically, a good screening process involves doing such things as checking out every prospective renter’s criminal records, income sources, rental references, and credit report. Also, key to the success is knowing what questions to ask when renting your property.
Knowing what tenant screening questions to ask your potential Memphis renters can save you a huge amount of time. Marketing a vacant property usually results in lots of phone calls and emails from interested rental applicants.
By conducting a pre-showing interview, you can save time for both you and the interested tenant. In this article, we’ll show you which questions to ask and what questions not to ask during a tenant interview.
Top 5 Questions Landlord Should Ask Potential Memphis Tenants
1. Why are you moving?
This is the question that you need to ask if you want to get to know more about the potential renter. There are various reasons behind a renter’s desire to move, and the following are the most common reason:
- Problems with their neighbors
It is understandable that people would not want to live next to horrifying or rude neighbors.
- Concerns related to changes in their lease agreement
There are instances when renters choose to move because they are worried of a potential eviction for being behind on their rental payments. In addition to this, when it comes time to renew, they may also be concerned about a potential increase in rental fees.
- The desire to transfer to areas where rent is cheaper
Housing costs, including rents, have consistently increased for the last 5 years.
- Needs bigger space
Several people have an increasing need for bigger space today due to Millennials’ growing families and an increasing number of multigenerational households.
- Aims to purchase a house
Some consider purchasing houses while the terms are still attractive. Reasons for this are low-interest rates, recovering credit scores, and rent prices have a higher cost than mortgage costs in several areas.
Although most of these reasons may be acceptable, be wary of red flags such as if they are being evicted, or if they have sued their previous landlord.
2. When are you planning to move in?
It is a standard process for a tenant to give the landlord notice of their intentions prior to moving in. The rental laws in most states, such as Tennessee, require tenants to give their landlord at least 30 days’ notice.
Considering this, if an interested renter wants to move in as soon as possible it may be a red flag.
However, there may be some exceptions to this such as when the potential renter is given a change of station orders (usually for servicemen) or is a victim of domestic abuse.
In general, responsible renters will usually begin their search in advance.
3. How much is your monthly income?
Late or non-payment of rent can lead to a shortage in funds for mortgage payments and property maintenance. A renter’s ability to pay rent is one of the top qualities that landlords screen for.
Ask this question to prospective renters to get a sense of whether they have the capacity to pay their dues on time. Ideally, a renter should make a monthly income that is triple the amount of the monthly rental fee. For example, if the monthly rent is $900, they should make at least $2,700 a month.
Learning their monthly income only gives you a portion of the picture. It is equally important for you to conduct a credit check.
Although they may be making triple the amount of the rental fee on a monthly basis, any debt that the renter has may impact their ability to pay rent on time. This is why conducting a credit check will help you see if the renter is truly able to pay their monthly rental fees.
4. Can you provide references from your current landlord and employer?
A decent screening procedure includes questions to ask tenant references. These rental questions help with validating income and employment background. Extensively checking your potential tenant’s references will aid you in your decision-making process.
It’s always a good idea to have questions to ask their former landlord to get a better idea of them.
If a potential renter hesitates or makes excuses concerning why they cannot give references, it would be best for you continue with your search. It is highly likely that the tenant is concealing something.
5. Have you ever been evicted?
Although it’s highly likely that they will lie, it is worth asking this question to potential tenants. Some of the common reasons why landlords evict renters in Memphis are:
- Damage to property
- Violations of the lease agreement
- Not paying the rental fees
- Expiration of lease agreement or holdover tenant
In most cases, it would be best for you to let the potential renter explain their situation if they have been evicted before. However, you should be wary of red flags such as property damage or excessive noise.
Questions Landlords Cannot Ask Potential Memphis Tenants
Under Tennessee’s landlord-tenant laws, tenant discrimination is illegal. Questions that are considered as discriminative should not be asked by landlords. A discriminative question may be in two forms: questions that are unfair and questions that are against the provisions of the Federal Fair Housing Act
Questions that are considered unfair are those that are being asked differently depending on a tenant’s characteristic.
State law in Tennessee prohibits discrimination based on familial status, religion, national origin, race, disability, color, or sex. For instance, you must not ask potential renter about the number of children that they have. Asking this question concerns the tenant’s familial status. However, you may ask the renter about the number of occupants that will be living on the property.
Another mistake would be asking if the prospective tenant would like directions to the nearest church. This insinuates that you believe the renter is a Christian. Religion is one of the characteristics protected by the act.
It is important for you to ask the right questions when screening potential renters. It will not only help save you time but will also choose a top-notch tenant for your Memphis rental property.
On the other hand, if you ask the wrong questions, you may end up having problems and even land in trouble with local authorities. Hopefully, with this guide, you’ll have the capacity to form valuable rental screening questions that you can trust and utilize in future applicant screening procedures.