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5 Questions Landlords Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Ask A Potential Tenant

September 29, 2010

1.  How will you pay the rent? This may sound straight forward but asking a question like this can elicit a huge amount of information. Most people are honest and a simple direct question can uncover a whole wealth of information. By asking this question I have discovered that tenants who currently hold down a full-time job are planning on quitting and going back to uni and will get a student loan. That other people who are currently claiming benefits have a job lined up in the near future. And then you have others who discuss their multiple streams of income from a variety of sources to those who plan to use the “bank of mum and dad”.

2. Can you show me evidence of your income? People get all over funny over privacy issues and showing you bank statements, pay slips and benefit letters. My personal belief is that if you want to live in my property then you have to show me you can afford to live in it.  I will look at the last 3 months bank statements and note down the income sources, the running balance, overdraft levels and if there have been any returned direct debits/ payments. Anything which looks strange or I have an issue with I will ask. It may sound intrusive – but at the end of the day I am about to let this person live in my property – I need to feel sure of my decision and that they will be able to pay the rent.

3. Why are you leaving your current property? I like to know the baggage which comes with my tenants. This question can be answered simply; for example:– I need to move location for my job/ I want a bigger house. Other more varied (and often more usual answers) are about their previous landlords or problems with the property or landlord or both! Landlords who did not listen, who would not do work on the property, who intruded on the tenants privacy, who did not respect them. Good tenants tend to stay for a long period of time in properties and only if their life circumstances change will they move – more often than not, it tends to be that tenants leave landlords rather than properties.

4. Who will be living here? Just because it is a well presented twenty-something female and her chatty mum who have come to view the property it does not necessarily follow that these will be the people who will actually be living there. I always ask this question in an interested conversational fashion so as not to put any pressure, but to elicit what the situation is. That way I can understand if there is going to be tons of children, pets and ex husbands coming along to ensure that the people and the property match.

5. What do you think of the property? Reading body language is all well and good but there is nothing like just coming out and actually asking someone their opinion – you will be surprised by how much you can learn. Don’t be afraid to pursue any comments that are made – the more you ask the more you learn. It could be that the kitchen you think is clean and tidy may be viewed as tired and dated.  Find out what the barriers are and see if there is a way of overcoming them to make the deal work. It could be as simple as supplying a tin of paint or replacing a carpet.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2010 8:42 am

    Certainly better than just asking the one question…………..”why haven’t you paid your rent?”

    • September 29, 2010 8:46 am

      Well this is before they move in and hopefully having to avoid asking that question!

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