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5 Vital Questions to Ask Your Rental Applicants

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As a property manager, finding the best residents for your properties is essential to running a successful multifamily building. After all, you want to know that you can trust your residents and that they’re a good fit for your units. By conducting a thorough screening process, you’ll be sure you’re always choosing the right residents–and avoiding the liabilities you could amass over a lazy pick. Whether it’s a resident who has a history of late payments or one that plans on living with a pet in your pet-free building, here are the 5 questions we think are vital to ask your applicants before renting to them. 

  1. What is your monthly income?

It’s an obvious one–but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. A resident’s ability to pay rent is the number one factor that will affect the bottom line of your rental business. Standard practice is to require renters to make at least three times the monthly rent, but this may differ based on location. Consider also factoring in the cost of various monthly fees, such as pet rent or parking.

  1. Have you ever been evicted or broken a rental agreement?

Any information you can get regarding past evictions and broken leases could alert you to possible problems you may encounter with your applicant down the road. Asking for references from previous landlords is a great way to receive verification of their reliability in this regard. If they’ve been evicted or broken a lease in the past, it’s helpful to understand why so you’re making the most informed decision possible.

  1. What is your lifestyle like?

Whether they’re a single bachelor with a rowdy pet and nasty smoking habit, or a newlywed couple looking to grow their family, it’s important to consider the lifestyle of your potential residents. Questions about lifestyle basics can help you understand whether or not the candidate is a good fit for your property and its policies.

  1. Do you have a criminal record?

Usually covered in a standard background check, it’s important to know if a prospective renter has ever been convicted of a crime. The last thing you want to do is put your current residents and your property at risk, so be diligent about this question if your local laws allow it. 

  1. How long did you live at your last residence and why are you moving?

Once you’ve found a great resident, it’s valuable to keep them renting with you for the long term. Find out how long they lived at their last residence to give you an idea of their moving habits, and how long they’re hoping to stay at your property. 
Learning why they’ve decided to move could also give you insights into what they’re looking for, and how to improve your own property. Was it just simply a lifestyle change? Or, was it frustration with their previous landlord? If it’s the latter, take notes and make sure you’re delivering on your offers. Utilizing property management software is a great way to deliver exceptional services, and keep your residents happy at your property (and more likely to renew)!

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