We all know how important it is to interview tenant references when deciding whether to lease to a prospective tenant.
In the past, we have discussed how to do just that, as well as provided some tips for how to double check, and ensure a potential tenant’s references are even real.
But have you put much thought into interviewing the actual tenant?
With so much stress being placed on verifying a tenant’s references, property owners often forget to interview the actual tenant that will be living in their Edgewood rental property.
That’s why today we are going to look at some great ways to approach interviewing potential tenants, as well as some of the best questions to ask.
How to Interview Potential Edgewood Tenants
1. Follow a Consistent Tenant Screening Process
We always emphasize how important having a consistent tenant screening process is.
And, if you don’t currently enlist the help of property management services in Edgewood, the idea of having a strict tenant screening process in place may be foreign.
However, it is crucial you don’t wing the screening process.
You might unknowingly violate housing discrimination laws, and find yourself in a lot of trouble.
Or, you might place a terrible tenant in your rental.
Tenant interviewing is entwined in the screening process.
In fact, at every stage of the tenant screening process, there are perfect opportunities to conduct mini interview sessions along the way.
Look at Rentalutions’ five stages to a good screening process, to see what we mean:
- The Inquiry. An interested tenant calls you wanting to know more about your Harford County rental property. This is when you can run some quick screening questions by them to make sure they are serious about leasing your property.
- Property Showing. This is the first time you meet the tenant in person, and first impressions are a big deal. Your gut instinct will lead you in the right direction after meeting the tenant face-to-face.
- Rental Application. As your tenant prepares to fill out the required rental application, you can gauge their reaction as you explain what is required. For example, a security deposit, first and last month’s rent, employment and previous rental history verification, and even a background check are typical things to require during this stage. Tenants that are hesitant to provide the documentation and money upfront, aim to rush the process, or have a lot of “good excuses” as to why they can’t do one thing or another, may signal they are not a good fit for you.
- After deciding that the tenant is in fact a good fit, you can sit down and discuss their approval. Again, their willingness, or lack thereof, when it comes to actually handing over the funds to lease your property will reveal itself during this stage.
- Lease Signing. By now, the tenant should fully understand what is expected of them while leasing your property. However, if when you are going over the lease agreement in full (as any successful property owner will), the tenant starts to fuss over provisions in the lease agreement that you are not willing to budge on, you ought to back out and find a different tenant.
As you can see, every point during the screening process offers a prime chance to interview tenants to ensure they are a good fit.
2. Prepare for the Interview
Before diving into the interview, it is important to have a game plan.
Again, violating the Fair Housing Act is something you want to avoid at all costs.
You also want to appear professional, prepared, and serious about your rental property business.
It is a good idea to have a specific set of questions you want to ask while interviewing a tenant.
And, if you prefer to split the interview into parts, make sure you have specific questions for each stage of the tenant screening process.
If you are self-managing your Edgewood property, and are unsure about conducting actual tenant interviews, try practicing with a close friend.
This can help ease some of the nerves and help you stay on track during the real deal.
3. Be Strong
This is something almost all property managers will recommend.
Tenants are good at trying to convince property owners to lease to them. They know all the tricks in the book, can be smooth talkers, and may even straight out lie to get you to say “yes.”
Being aware of some of the most common red flags that appear during tenant screening will help you avoid falling victim to a problem tenant.
Also, try to remain consistent with all tenants that cross your path, and don’t rush a decision.
After all, placing a less than ideal tenant in your rental property is only going to lead to more problems down the road.
And, these problems are bound to turn into yet another vacancy that you will have to fill with a different tenant.
5 Common Questions to Ask Potential Harford County Tenants
Here are some of the most common tenant interview questions you should ask potential tenants:
1. Why Are You Moving?
We suggest learning the most common reasons why people move, and then catering to them so they stay in your rental for long periods of time.
However, sometimes a tenant’s reason for moving so much in the past, or so quickly in the moment, may raise some concerns with you.
Be aware of this and make your decision whether to move forward based on the tenant’s answer.
2. Do You Have Pets?
Depending on your rental property’s pet policy, this question is an important one.
It is crucial to get an honest answer from your prospective tenants in the beginning, in hopes that they will not sneak a pet into a no-pet rental, or violate the pet policies that are in place.
3. How Many People Will Be Residing With You?
This is important because you should thoroughly screen all adult tenants that will be living in your rental property for the duration of the lease term.
Knowing how many people will be living in your rental from the start will ensure there is enough room for everyone, without exceeding the legal limits.
Just make sure you do not violate any of fair housing regulations, and do not discriminate against potential tenants.
4. Can You Pay the Move-in Costs Upfront?
This is a big one.
Informing a prospective tenant what you require in terms of first and/or last month’s rent, application fees, and security deposits is a good way to weed those out who simply don’t have enough income to cover the move-in costs.
Those who have issues coming up with your requirements at the start of a lease term are bound to give you trouble at one point or another during the lease term when it comes to paying rent.
And this is not something you want to deal with. Ever.
5. Can You Pass a Background Check?
Many potential tenants may not be aware that you require a passing background check to lease your Maryland rental property.
Kindly explain to the tenant that you are more than willing to show the property, and discuss the lease terms, but that one of the conditions upon move-in is passing a background check.
Again, this question will effectively weed out anyone that fears they will not pass.
No tenant wants to pay the non-refundable application fee if they know chances of their application being approved are very slim.
The key to tenant screening and interviewing is consistency – consistency in the process, consistency in the questions, and consistency in your standards.
Do not let the fear of your property sitting vacant cause you to make a rushed decision.
For those that own rental property in Edgewood, and do not want to worry about violating fair housing rules, interviewing tenants on the phone or in person, or having to make the decision to approve or deny a potential tenant, contact Bay Management Group now to help.
At Bay Management Group, we have strict tenant screening processes in place that are not only legally compliant, but also effective.
In fact, on average, we lease most rental properties in 30 days or less.
And, the tenants placed in the properties we lease are high quality, meet all of your standards, and are guaranteed to pay rent on time for at least the first year of the lease term, or else we re-rent your property for free.
So get in touch with us today, and see how we can reduce your vacancy and tenant turnover rates, and get you the annual income you’re aiming for.