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, background check and credit references for your tenant before signing the tenancy agreement.

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Without further ado, here are eight questions we think you should pose to your prospective tenant screening process. Once you’re happy with their answers, then go ahead and arrange the viewings!

1. 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 who are moving because of disagreements with their previous landlord or neighbours.

2. When would you like to move in?

This question quickly identifies if your applicant is the right fit for your vacancy. If your property is available immediately, but the prospective tenant can’t move in for another month or so, the applicant might not be right this time (unless you are happy to accept your property lying vacant).

3. What length of tenancy are you looking for?

If you want a tenant who can remain in your property for a longer 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.

screen prospective tenants4. What is your monthly income?

You want to be sure 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.

The amount of debt they are in will also impact their ability to pay their rent on time, this will be identified on the credit check.

5. 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.

6. Do you currently have any pets?

If they have pets and you don’t accept animals, then you’ve saved both yourself and the applicant time and effort of an unnecessary viewing. If you do allow pets but have restrictions on the number or size of pets, this is also the time to let the applicant know.

7. 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.

8. Who would be living in the property with you?

Make sure 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 rental application/tenancy agreement making them jointly responsible for adhering to the terms of the contract.

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.