Looking to Rent out Your House? Ask These Questions First!

Being a landlord comes with a unique set of issues, not the least of which is making sure you have quality tenants. If you have ever wondered what you should ask before renting your house, this article is for you.

In a hot market, you may have to wade through piles of application to pick the right candidate. One way to speed up the process while also saving you money and aggravation is to ask good questions right at the beginning.

Following are some questions that will guide your decisions about whether you want to proceed to the application phase of the process. Instead of a stiff, formal interrogation, try to strike up a casual conversation where the questions flow more naturally. This approach will garner you kinds of interesting information.

Things to Ask Potential Tenants

Why are you looking to move?

This is a great ice breaker to start the conversation. A prospective tenant will reveal some great tidbits as they tell you the larger story about what is going on in their life.

What kind of work do you do?

You are trying to quickly assess their job stability. Find out where they currently work and how long have they been there.

What is your income?

This is a straightforward way to pre-qualify a candidate and determine can make the minimum amount needed to qualify for the rent you are asking.

Where do you currently live and how long have you been there?

This will give insight into their rental history. Again, you are looking for stability. A person who moves every few months might not be the person you are looking for.

Will your current landlord give you a good reference?

This question can open up lots of chatter including whether they pay their rent on time and whether they have ever been evicted.

Do you have pets?

Try to get a full picture of their pet situation including how many, how old, and what breeds they have. We encourage landlords to screen the pet as well as the tenants because they can be a big liability risk.

Is there anything I am going to find out during a background check you want to tell me ahead of time? People with a past should not be automatically disqualified from leasing property, but they need to be upfront with you so you can properly vet them. Make it clear that you will do a thorough check and don’t want to be surprised. If a potential tenant tells you they have committed a crime, try and dee if you can learn the name of their probation officer.

Make it clear that you are going to verify everything so it best if they are upfront.

Things Not to Ask Potential Tenants

There are some questions that are off limits and illegal according to the Fair Housing Act. Don’t ask questions that can be interpreted as discriminatory based on national origin, family status, race, religion, sex or disabilities.  

The following are examples of the types of questions you should NOT ask:  

  • How many kids do you have?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you want directions to the nearest church?

Looking for more tips? Download our cheat sheet, 5 Things You MUST Know Before Becoming a Landlord.