Questions to ask tenants my top 10

Interviewing questions to ask tenants

The property has been painted, advertised, shown and now you have a couple of different sets of tenants that have expressed interest in taking the property. So you think you have all the hard work done in finding a tenant for your property. Well that would be correct now you just have to make sure that the tenants you select are the right tenants.

Here is a list of 10 questions to allow you understand what your tenants are.

Questions to ask tenants

1.       Why are you moving?

It is a straight forward question which should give you the answers you need.  This is a great opening question to ask tenants. The type of answers will be varied but typically- because of my job, looking for more room, prefer this location, lease expired etc. The information you are asking here should match with the references.

First Time Renter -If a tenant has not rented in the past it will be your choice to proceed or not. Every tenant has to start somewhere and just because they have not rented before doesn’t mean they will be bad tenants. Make sure to confirm this later by asking for a current bank statement.

2.       When are you looking to move?

This is obviously important for you as the sooner you will have it rented the sooner you have revenue coming in on the property. Whilst it is always ideal for a tenant to say tomorrow or ASAP make sure you ask follow up questions. How come your looking to move so quickly? There could be a genuine reason behind this and depending on where your property is located the availability might be tight so they could be looking for some time. What you want to do here is see if the tenants story is all coming together on what they have said already.

3.       How many people is in the group?

Just because a set of two tenants come to view the property it doesn’t mean that they will be the only ones living there. You really need to ask this question and back it up by saying it is important for the insurance on the property and it states in the lease that only the named people on the lease can live there.  Tell tale signs of potentially extra tenants are 2 people expressing interest for a 3 bedroom property etc.

4.       What is the total income of the tenants?

This for some can be a difficult question to ask and some tenants might get bothered by you asking it. It is a very important question, just like you get asked about what your salary is before getting a loan. The tenant needs to confirm they have the ability to pay what the rent is every month.  Financial experts suggest that a maximum of 35% of your salary should go on rent. So if a set of tenants are on minimum wage they have a Gross salary of around £2,500 so there maximum rent should be £875 per month.  A copy of a bank statement should confirm all of this.

tenant questions

5.       Has the tenant got a months rent and deposit in advance.

I would highly recommend getting this from any possible tenant. If the tenant is unable to outlay this then I would ask questions on whether they are the right tenants for your property. If there are any doubts that the tenants are unable to hand this over on the move in date the likely hood is that this could be the same with the rent in the future.

6.       How long of a lease are they looking for?

I would suggest here that a 6 month AST lease is the preferred option.  If a tenant says anything to suggest that 6 months is to long of a lease period to commit to walk away.  Tenants can say things like “I want to run the lease in line with my work contract which I only have 3 months left of but I would be certain it will be renewed”. It seems reasonable but if it doesn’t you are going to go through this whole renting process again in 3 months.

7.       That the tenant is happy to rent as is

Having a tenant to move into a property and ask on the lease signing day for a new bed, sofa, wooden floors etc can get things off to a bad start.  This can especially be the case if you have kept the property vacant for a couple of weeks for the tenant. It is going to a financial burden for you to say no and look for a new set of tenants. The best thing to do is ask if the tenant is happy with everything and if not to let you know now. If a tenant finds out the washing machine is broke after a week that is fine but wanting a new one because it has not a large enough drum is a problem.


8.      Rental References

This is very important and although you might you a good ability to read peoples character I would highly recommend backing up the conversation to date with references.

Work reference– A letter to confirm the tenant is currently employed by the company and a name and contact number to confirm. Do not be too worried about full time permanent as a lot of companies do not offer this and prefer 11 month renewable contracts.

Landlord reference – Preferably with a land line to confirm the tenancy with the landlord.

This blog posting on rental references checking might also interest you

Utilities with previous address – This is a good way to confirm the previous address and is essential for a tenant stating it is the first time renting.

Bank Statement – This should confirm the tenant’s ability to pay as it would be best to set up a standing order for rent. It can be used as a utility also but preferably as a separate document.

I.D- Copy of valid Passport or Driving license as a preference

National Insurance number- To confirm the identity and also needed for the PRTB registration.

9.       Any Pets or Do you smoke

Might well seem like obvious questions to ask tenants but I would highly recommend asking them. I have personally seen many leases end due to the above. Some tenants may think its fine to have a pet dog or to smoke in the kitchen of the property. If this is out of bounds for your property make sure to ask.

10.   And lastly…Any questions

This simple question could unearth a reason that this property might not suit this tenant which they may not realise until they move in.

 After all of these questions hopefully you have a better understanding or your new potential tenants and which one suits your property best. If a potential set of tenants do not suit your property you need to walk away as having a tenant in which doesn’t suit can be very costly, stressful and time consuming. I hope this has been helpful for you. If you feel I have left something out in my questions to ask tenants please let me know

by Andreas Riha

Leave a Reply