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5 Questions to Ask Potential Renters to Improve Your Application Screening Process

Have you ever bought a car online? If so, you probably know exactly where we’re going with this.

Making a sight-unseen investment can be scary. It impacts your time, finances, and future. Your renter screening process works the same way, and you want to ensure you’re making a “smart investment” and making the right call.

Asking the right questions during the renter screening process increases your confidence in whichever renter you approve. But how do you know what to ask?

Use these seven questions to improve your renter screening process and find your next qualified renter faster. 

The Value of a Thorough Renter Screening Process

As a property manager, you know you only want the best renters living in your properties. You’ll struggle to achieve this goal without a comprehensive renter screening process. By conducting thorough screenings, leasing agents can identify tenants who consistently pay rent on time, maintain the property in excellent condition, and adhere to lease agreements.

One primary advantage of a comprehensive screening process is the ability to identify exceptional renters. Through thorough background checks, including employment verification and credit checks, leasing agents can pinpoint applicants with a proven record of responsible tenancy. These individuals are more likely to fulfill their financial obligations, take care of the property, and contribute positively to your rental community. 

Stong screening processes also allow you to identify potential "problem renters" before they become part of the community. By carefully scrutinizing criminal records and previous eviction history, agents can make informed decisions and protect the peace and harmony of the property. Being proactive helps you create a safe environment for all your renters. 

Compliance with fair housing laws is crucial to your renter screening process. Utilizing standardized criteria and objective screening methods helps you treat all applicants equally. These practices help you avoid unintentional biases and discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, etc. This commitment to fairness ensures legal compliance and promotes diversity and inclusivity within your community.

Leasing and screening software, like Intellirent, provides the necessary tools to streamline the screening process while upholding fairness and regulatory requirements. You can use Intellirent to receive online applications, run credit checks, perform background verifications, and more. Our software streamlines the decision-making process, allowing agents to select qualified renters more efficiently.


Improve Your Screening Process With These 5 Questions

1. Can you provide references from past landlords?

The first question you may want to ask potential renters is if they have references from the property managers of their previous properties. With this information, you can dig deeper into their rental history and gain a more holistic view of their reliability as renters. 

Speaking with previous landlords, you can gain insights into their behavior, how well they maintained the property, and whether they paid rent on time. While credit and background checks are helpful, talking to previous landlords can uncover red flags that might not appear on those reports.

You should also ask applicants if they have a history of evictions. Asking the applicant this question directly allows them to be upfront and transparent with you about their rental history. It's an important step in ensuring you find responsible and trustworthy tenants.

2. Can you provide proof of affordability?

Next, you must ensure a prospective renter can afford the property they’re applying for. If your applicant does not have the funds to afford your prices, they will have difficulty paying rent consistently and on time. 

Requesting pay stubs or employer references is one way to verify their income and employment stability. However, it is essential to remember that just because an applicant does not have a traditional employer does not mean they cannot afford your property.

Self-employed workers, freelancers, or retirees cannot provide pay stubs, though they may have the resources to afford the rent you’re charging easily. In these cases, you can verify their affordability through bank statements, past tax returns, or other similar documentation. 

Assessing your applicants’ affordability enables you to mitigate the risk of renting to someone who may struggle to meet their financial obligations. Additionally, learning about an applicant’s financial situation can give you invaluable lifestyle insights, helping you determine whether they will be a match for your property. 

3. How many people will be living in the unit?

The next question you should ask your applicants is how many people they intend to move into the unit if approved. The more residents in any single unit, the more wear-and-tear your property will see during their tenancy. 

Additionally, you must ensure the property stays clean and complies with local housing regulations. Understanding the number of occupants your applicant intends to move into your unit, you can confirm that it aligns with your property’s maximum occupancy guidelines. Additionally, you must complete background and credit checks for each adult occupant. 

4. Do you have any pets?

One question that's often important to property managers is whether the prospective tenants have any pets. By asking about pets upfront, you can assess the potential risk and make informed decisions about allowing them in your rental property. You will also avoid wasting the applicant’s time, as most pet owners will not consider a rental property that would require them to give up ownership of their pet to move in. 

Depending on your policies, you may require additional security deposits, pet fees, or liability insurance to cover any potential damages caused by pets. 

It is crucial to establish and include clear lease terms regarding pet ownership and including them in the lease agreement. Making your terms clear ensures that renters understand and agree to abide by the rules and responsibilities of having pets in the rental unit

Examples of these terms can include restrictions on the number, size, or type of pets allowed, pet fees or deposits, and requirements for pet care and clean-up.

5. Do you have any questions for me?

Lastly, it's always a good idea to ask prospective renters if they have any questions for you. Opening the door to questions allows your applicants to seek clarification on any aspects of the rental property, lease terms, or the rental process that may be unclear to them. 

By answering their questions, you provide valuable information, build trust, and establish a rapport with potential renters. Addressing their concerns and reassuring them that you take their needs and inquiries seriously helps create a positive renting experience from the start. 

This proactive approach can help avoid misunderstandings or miscommunications later, ensuring a smoother and more successful relationship with your renters.

Take the Guesswork Out of Renter Screening

These questions can start your screening process, but no interview is foolproof. As a property owner or manager, you want to ensure a secondary security measure to double-check your screening process. Enter leasing software!

By adopting leasing software, you can streamline and simplify the renter screening process, saving you time and providing peace of mind. Leasing software offers automated processes that make renter screening more efficient. With just a few clicks, you can gather all the necessary information and conduct background checks, credit checks, and employment verification. 

Automating your leasing process eliminates the need for manual paperwork and reduces the risk of human error. Intellirent’s renter leasing and screening software can significantly enhance your screening process. Our intuitive interface and comprehensive features help you simplify the entire application and screening process.

Intellirent offers secure online applications, document management, and integrated screening services. With Intellirent, you can efficiently collect and review applicant information, conduct thorough screenings, and make informed decisions about who to rent to. By taking the guesswork out of renter screening, Intellirent takes the guesswork out or renter screening and empowers property managers to choose the best renters with confidence.

Book a product tour today to see if Intellirent is the right solution for your property management business! 


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