10 Pre-Screening Questions for Potential Tenants Before Renting in the UK
Every landlord should have a standard set of questions they ask any prospective renter who wants to view the property. Asking these pre-screening questions before organising a viewing will save you time as they allow you to weed out tenants who are not suitable for your property.
It is essential to treat your prospective tenants fairly and equally, so your questions should be the same for every person. Remember that it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their sex, race, religion or sexuality.
These questions are not a substitute for proper tenant referencing. You should still gain an employment reference, previous landlord references and credit references for your tenant before signing the tenancy agreement.
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Without further ado, here are ten questions we think you should pose to your prospective tenants. Once you’re happy with their answers, go ahead and arrange the viewings!
1. When would you like to move in?
This is an important question because you will want to minimise void periods. If your property is available immediately, but the prospective tenant isn’t looking to move for another few months, you may prefer to look for a tenant who can move in sooner.
Conversely, if you have started marketing your property in advance, showing it to a tenant who needs to move immediately will be a waste of both parties’ time.
2. What length of tenancy are you looking for?
If you want a tenant who can remain in your property for a more extended period, make that clear. On the flip side, you may only want to engage a tenant on a short-term let, perhaps because you plan to carry out renovation work at some stage later in the year. Be clear and upfront about your plans for the property and make sure you are both on the same wavelength.
3. Why are you moving?
You want a tenant who is moving for legitimate reasons, such as moving out of a parent’s home, relocating with work, getting more space or reducing their commute.
Be wary of tenants moving because of disagreements with their previous landlord or neighbours.
4. Do you currently rent, and how long was your last tenancy?
If they currently rent their home, asking about the duration of past tenancies will give you a good idea of how long they are likely to stay in your property. Tenants who have a history of hopping from one rented home to the next may do the same to you.
5. Does your current landlord know you are planning to move?
This question will help you understand what the person will be like a tenant. Ideally, you want honest tenants who will be upfront with you. If your prospective tenant has not informed their current landlord that they are thinking of moving, you may want to ask why.
6. What is your monthly income?
You want to ensure that your tenant can meet the rent payments on time. Ideally, you are looking for a tenant whose monthly income is roughly three times the rent.
Also, ask what line of work they are in, try to gauge their financial situation and whether they have a steady job earning a reliable income.
7. Have you ever been evicted?
You are looking for an outright ‘No’ here! There is plenty of evidence that past evictions are predictive of future behaviour.
However, there may be extenuating circumstances. If their finances are in order and they can provide a guarantor, you may still be prepared to consider them.
8. Do you have any pets?
Ask about any pets your prospective tenant owns so that you can make sure they are suitable for your property. If you rent out a small apartment, you may decide against renting to tenants with a large dog.
If you would rather not have pets in your property, it is best to be upfront about this.
9. Are you a smoker?
Smoking can cause extensive damage to your property, so you may have policies and rules around this. If your prospective tenant is a smoker, make sure they are aware of the smoking policy for your property and the consequences if they don’t adhere to it.
N.B. Make sure the policy and consequences are laid out in your tenancy agreement.
10. Who would be living in the property with you?
Ensure that there is enough space for everyone staying in your rental property and that you don’t exceed legal limits. Bear in mind that more people also equals more wear and tear.
All tenants over the age of 18 should be named on the tenancy agreement making them jointly responsible for adhering to the contract terms.
If you’d rather not get involved in screening tenants and conducting viewings, handing the job over to a reliable letting agent could be a good move. Visit our landlords’ page to find out more about what we do, or get in touch with us today.