The rental market is and has always been a competitive one, with tenants trying to find a good apartment for a great price and landlords trying to attract great tenants for their properties. A high tenant turnover affects landlords’ profits greatly and they try to find and onboard new tenants as soon as possible.
However, not every applicant viewing your apartment is a suitable tenant for you. Sometimes, a bad tenant may make you wonder if you should have left the unit vacant. A complete screening of every applicant is a must-do for every landlord to find their next tenant, the most important being reference check, especially that of their previous landlords.
What should you ask your potential tenant’s references?
When did the tenant move-in and what was the duration of their stay? Verify when they had moved in and how long they had stayed in their property. Ask an open ended question so that the reference lets you know the date and duration. This way you can make sure that this is indeed a valid reference and not a friend posing as a landlord.
Did the tenant pay rent on time and regularly? You can follow up this question with what their rent was, to see if it is at par with yours or much less. Try to get to know if they had a roommate helping them with the rent payments or if they managed to pay in full on their own.
Did they keep the property well maintained? Did the tenant take good care of the property? Get to know how tidy they are, if they left any big damages or if they had any large pets you should be aware of. Or, if they smoke in the property. In general, how good was the property when they vacated it.
How well did they communicate? Communication is key to any relationship and it is no different between a tenant and landlord. Knowing how well they communicate will give you an indication of how easy it is to work with them for rental related issues.
Would the landlord rent to them again? The answer to this question may give away a lot. Even if the landlord had been evasive with answering the previous questions, the response to this question will let you know what kind of tenant they were.
Just because an applicant looks great on paper, it does not mean that they will be really great. It is very important to vet each applicant with not just references, but other information as well before making a decision.