Landlord Screening Questions

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Renting properties for income can be a lucrative business. But to be a successful landlord, you need to know the screening questions that can find you reliable tenants. Asking a prospective tenant for her personal information to do a credit check is legal, according to the Bureau of Consumer Protection. But there are other questions landlords can ask to help find the right tenant.

What is Your Moving Timetable?

  • Landlords can learn important information about a prospective tenant's situation with their current landlord by asking about the tenant's moving timetable, according to real estate expert Andrea Coombes writing for the Market Watch website. A tenant who is in a hurry to rent your property may be getting evicted from his current residence. This is no reason to jump to conclusions, but it is a chance to ask important questions. Find out why the tenant is being evicted. Insist on getting the phone number of the current landlord to find out the story from him. Once you have both sides of the story, you can determine if the tenant shows signs of being a potential problem.

Do You Have References?

  • A credit check can be used to see how a potential tenant handles responsibility, and to see how many addresses the tenant has had in the past. But using references of past landlords and other character references can also help you to find the right tenant. One of the advantages of using references is if the tenant has a history of not paying rent or leaving apartments without notice, then you can use that as the basis of your refusal along with the credit report, according to the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Remember to send an adverse action report to the tenant if you use his credit report to refuse rental. But do not base the decision on the credit report alone. Always back it up by checking references.

Why is Your Credit Score Low?

  • Good people sometimes experience bad times. When you are interviewing a prospective tenant with a bad credit report, give the tenant a chance to explain his situation, states financial expert Pat Curry writing on the Bankrate.com website. Always collect information to corroborate your tenant's explanation, such as references from old landlords and recent paystubs from the tenant to show continued employment. But give the tenant a chance to explain her bad credit report, and a chance to show that she can be considered a reliable tenant in the future. Do not allow a written report to deny you the chance at a good tenant.

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