• Richard Dawson

Renting my House: Getting to Know your Tenant

Updated: Mar 24

There is always a risk involved in renting your property to strangers. It does not matter whether you are a new landlord or have years of experience, every tenant brings with them the possibility of problems. It is important that you know exactly what type of tenant you are getting before you have them sign your lease agreement.

It’s vital that you set the scene and know what you can expect from your tenants, and they know what to expect from you. The best way to do that is to be prepared to answer the most common rental questions and have a clear idea of what questions you should present.

Common Questions Tenants Will Ask You

During the early stages of the leasing process, you’ll likely find yourself answering a host of questions from possible tenants. Here are some of what the most common questions tenants will ask you, and how you can handle them.

Can I Pay Upfront?

You may be tempted to sign a potential tenant if they offer to pay for several months upfront. But you should be cautious in this scenario. A tenant that offers to pay upfront may know that their application could raise some red flags.

Regardless of the situation may be, there’s no real advantage to taking a prepaid tenant on. Instead, you should politely decline their request to pay upfront and encourage them to follow the rental procedure as normal. If, after running their credit and background checks, you have determined they’re low risk, then their offer should simply be taken as a sign that they’re highly motivated to move in.

Can You Make an Exception for Your Pet Policy?

According to Buildium’s 2020 Renters’ Report, 5 in 10 renters look for properties that allow pets. It is likely that if your current policies don’t allow for pets, you’re going to be asked to make an exception at some point. If you want to make a change to your pet policy it is, of course, up to you.

If you just don’t want the worry of amending your policy or the risk of pets, a simple “I’m sorry, I can’t make an exception” should suffice. However, the fact that 50% of renters look for a property that allows for pets should be compelling for you consider a change if they require.

For the right tenant you could decide to make a change and add a Pet Addendum to your lease. You can require your tenant to pay a deposit just in case their furry family member causes damage to your property. Additionally, you can charge your tenant additional pet rent.

Will You Consider a Short-Term Lease?

Keeping your property rented consistently by reliable tenants is the most important aspect in most rental markets. Therefore, renting to a tenant for less than 12 months is typically less than desirable.

However, if your property has been sitting vacant, it might not be a bad idea to set up a short-term lease. When setting up a short-term lease, you can also consider charging a bit more for rent, as you’re providing a special accommodation to your tenant and will most likely have to spend additional effort to fill the property once they leave.

Questions to Ask Your Tenant

While it’s important that you have answers ready for your potential tenants, it’s also good to have your own questions prepared for them. It is important that you vet your tenants before agreeing to a lease with them.

Have you ever been evicted?

Past evictions are frequently a strong indicator that they are not a preferable tenant. While this information will be available when you run their credit check, asking this question will provide applicants to provide an explanation. Maybe they were evicted during a particularly difficult time in their life and have since improved their circumstances. Asking this question can help you gain context that a credit check won’t provide.

Why are you moving?

People move properties for all kinds of reasons. Buildium’s Renters’ Report found that only 13% of renters say that their current rental actually meets their needs. Asking this question can help you gain some insight into what your tenants are looking for in their next place. This can enable you to meet their expectations. On a practical note, asking this question can also help you keep an eye out for red flags such as issues with the previous landlord, neighbours, or even a history of missed rent payments.

Do you own any pets?

This is a great preliminary screening question to help you pre-qualify applicants before you take the lease process any further. If you don’t allow pets and they own an animal, then asking this question saves a lot of time. However, if you do allow pets, this question helps you determine whether their pet fits your criteria. For example, you may only except certain types of pets or pets under a particular weight.

What do you look for from a landlord?

This question is vital to your ability to meet the expectations of your tenants. You can find out the best way for your tenant to pay or you may discover that your tenant has a particular expectation for how quickly maintenance requests are answered. While it’s important that your tenants meet your standards, it’s crucial to remember that you should meet theirs (within reason) for a long and happy relationship. If your tenant is happy, they’re more likely to re-sign their lease, keeping your property rented and profitable.

R.A.D Property Management can ask and answer all questions between landlords and tenants, saving you the hassle. We can also complete credit checks and ensure the tenants are the right fit for you. Get in touch to find out more about how R.A.D Property Management can help you get to know your tenants.

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