You’ve decided to rent out your home, and the time has come to choose the perfect tenant. Your property might well be your biggest investment, and unless you exercise appropriate caution when renting it out, it could also become your biggest liability. Nobody wants to get stuck doing extra renovations or finding a new tenant at the last minute, and all this can be avoided if you ask your prospective renters the right questions when you meet them.
1. Do you have any pets?
Not everyone is cut out to be a pet owner, and while an animal can be a great companion suited to city or apartment life, it’s impossible to truly eradicate the effect an animal has on a home. Any pet will add a factor of noise, messiness, and unpredictability to a tenant’s life, and to your flat.
Before you meet any potential tenants, decide whether you are okay opening up your property to pet-owners. If you are, be certain to ask how many animals your tenant has, what kind they are, and how old. With this information you can decide whether this tenant would be a good fit for your property.
2. Where do you work?
Having a property to rent is a great source of extra income, but only if your tenants pay their rent. When selecting your renter, consider someone that has a steady job that they have held onto for a while. This candidate will be more reliable and likely to understand the value of money than someone who lives off his parents’ dime and “DJs” at the university dive bar on Tuesdays.
Don’t just ask yourself whether a potential tenant will pay their rent, ask how. Is your rental in their price range? Someone who is working part time for minimum wage probably won’t be able to afford a luxury penthouse condo.
3. Could I have contact information for your previous landlords?
As their landlord, it’s your right to know your tenant’s sordid history. Call up a couple of his or her previous landlords and see what they have to say. The way a tenant behaved at their last place could be a good indicator of what you’re in for. Were there complaints from neighbors? Did she pay her rent on time?
Be careful though! A landlord might not be above giving a rave review just to get rid of a terrible tenant. Make sure you have a consensus before you make your decision. On the other hand, a couple of good references could ease your mind if you have other concerns.
4. Will you be living here alone, with a partner, or with roommates?
Picture this: You’ve found the perfect tenant for your apartment and signed a lease with him. On moving day, however, he arrives at the front door with an entourage of grubby, surly, youths and their foam mattresses. Now you have to either trust your tenant’s cronies, or kick them out, and nobody wants to have that conversation.
Make sure you’ve met everyone who will be living in the flat before you sign the lease. Don’t assume that a one-bedroom apartment will be housing only one person. If possible, sign each individual onto the document. This way everyone will know your building’s rules and will be held accountable for their actions.
5. Do you have a criminal record?”
This may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone knows what to look for in a police record or if they should even look at all.
Keep an open mind when you’re perusing a prospective tenant’s record. People make mistakes, but there’s no reason for an arrest to mean a person should never be allowed to rent a house again. Look for repeat offenses or violence, which could indicate an unsavory character or a short fuse.
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