Ten Questions to Ask Potential Tenants

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when renting out your property is not thoroughly screening tenants. Without effective vetting procedures, you’re likely to end up with a tenant that will do more harm than good. Luckily there’s an easy way to avoid all of these troubles.

Let’s go over ten questions to ask potential tenants to choose the perfect candidate for you.

Have you ever broken a lease?

It’s fair to say that if a prospective tenant has broken a rental agreement in the past, you should have cause for concern, and it should be a red flag. While it’s not a definite sign that you shouldn’t rent to them, it does show that you need to probe deeper. There are certain circumstances where you wouldn’t need to rule them as bad tenants.

What kind of work do you do?

It’s not impolite to ask a straightforward question about how much a person earns when it comes to business affairs. After all, you must know whether they can afford the monthly rent. By asking this question, you’re looking for more than just the name of an employer or a monthly salary, you’re looking to see if the position is a stable one or not, and if the industry is solid. It could be an indicator to see if they’ll be a safe option in the future. 

Have you filed for bankruptcy recently?

This question can be just as important as asking about their job and if they can afford rent. It’s a bit of a personal query, and some prospects might even feel uncomfortable answering it. However, if the response is positive, they shouldn’t feel the need to hide anything or be awkward about it.

It’s a key question you should definitely ask a potential tenant while conducting a screening, so don’t shy away from knowing detrimental facts about who you are renting out your property to.

Do you have favorable references from your current landlord?

This is very much an open-and-shut inquiry. If a prospect is happy to provide references, it means they’re fine with you verifying their employment status, income, and behavior in their current property. In other words, it’s less likely they’re trying to keep something from you.

Everyone can lie or hide some details when answering a screening. A real reference from a professional third party can provide more in-depth information in order to help in your tenant’s assessment.

How is your tenant-landlord relationship?

When asking this question, you should be less interested in what your candidate says and more interested in how they say it. Most often, they’ll either say the relationship with their current landlord is fine or air some minor grievances about slow repairs or lack of communication.

What’s more useful is body language. We’re not saying you need to be an amateur psychologist, but if they seem uncomfortable when answering this question, it could be an indication that they have something to hide and there is a deeper running problem there you should not overlook. According to RGroup Property Management, this isn’t a definite red flag, but it’s at least a sign that you should dig a little further.

When do you plan on moving in?

A good question for a potential renter is knowing when they plan to move. Maybe they have time left on their current lease and can’t move immediately. In this case, finding a tenant who can move in immediately may be best to reduce vacancy time.

How many people will be living with you?

Rental laws restrict the number of people per bedroom in a rental unit. There may be prospects who will try to keep this information from you in their favor and it’s best you get to the bottom of it before they move in. In any case, anyone living in the apartment permanently should be named on the lease agreement. 

Are you a smoker?

Another vital screening question to ask a tenant is if they smoke. Typically, an agreement should state your smoking policy and outline the consequences for violating the lease. However, asking if they smoke allows you to assess their reaction and discuss with them your rules. 

Do you have previous convictions?

Before asking about a criminal record, you need to know if any local laws prevent you from inquiring too sincerely into this. There’s also a grey area surrounding the Fair Housing Act and if it’s genuinely legal to ask this question, as it may turn out to be discriminatory. However, if you can ask about convictions, you definitely should do so, as their criminal history and type of punishment could indicate if they are a suitable candidate for renting. 

Can you pay the security deposit?

The last question is to ensure that the tenant can pay the upfront costs of renting. At the same time, you can ask if the potential tenant has any questions for you while you are at it. 

Paying the security deposit should be a no-brainer for most tenants, as it’s the preliminary step in renting a property. But if they can’t afford it, it means they most probably can’t afford your estate, and this should be a sign to move on to the next candidate, which would probably be a better fit for you in the long run.


Finding the right tenant for your rental property can be a tedious and long process, but it can easily make the difference between a profitable investment and a nightmare experience. 

A property manager can be of great help in this matter; they can conduct the screening for you. They know exactly what questions to ask and how to ask them in order to find you the perfect fit for your property, keeping you and your property safe.

Get in touch with us today and learn more about our services.