Ideally, you’d have tenants who paid promptly every month, never complained, and lived in your property for a long time while maintaining it in pristine condition. But that ideal seldom happens for the simple fact that we’re dealing with human beings. They move, get sick, marry, have different temperaments and needs, and so forth – all of which can affect the goals you have for your properties.
However, there are general guidelines you can follow in order to get the best possible tenants, the ones who do pay on time and who seldom complain unless there’s a good reason to do so:
Guideline 1: Qualify Your Applicants
This is a vital first step, because it helps identify great tenants and eliminate potential trouble-makers. The process of qualification involves a combination of asking good questions and using your intuition about an applicant. What are good questions to ask? Here’s a suggested list to which you can add your own questions:
- Where are you currently living?
- How long have you lived there?
- Why do you want to move from there?
- What term would you like to lease for? (For example, 1 year, 2 years, etc.)
- Do you have enough money for the deposit?
- Do you have good credit?
- Have you ever been evicted or asked to move out?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you have pets?, etc.
Some people will lie and give you false answers to the questions above, and that’s where experience and intuition will help you out. Eventually, you’ll get a sense of when an applicant is lying or telling you the truth.
If you feel uncomfortable asking such questions, simply remember that undesirable tenants can be an endless source of headaches and end up costing you a lot of time and money that you don’t have to waste.
Guideline 2: Do a Credit Check
If you get good answers to the questions above, ask for permission to do a credit check.
Note: Depending upon the area in which your properties are located, you may also want to do a check on criminal background. This also requires written authorization by the prospective tenant. If the person hangs the telephone up on you or leaves your office in a hurry, then you’ve just screened out an undesirable tenant!
Guideline 3: Call Previous Landlords
Of course, contact previous landlords to get their opinion of their former tenant. But, before you do that, ask the prospective tenant what they think their previous landlords will say about them. Their responses can tell you a lot about what kind of tenants they will be! For example, if they verbally trash one or more previous landlords, you know they’ll likely do the same to you. This helps prevent aggravation you don’t need!