Before they apply: 10 must ask questions for a prospective resident

  • July 18, 2017
  • Andrew McLeod

1. Why are you moving?

This question can tell you a lot about the resident, so listen closely. You want to look for legitimate reasons for moving, such as changing jobs or wanting more room. Beware of red flags for moving, such as being evicted, suing former landlord or the resident keeps getting into arguments with their landlord, resident manager, building staff or even neighbour. Make sure to double check this information in Certn because sometimes the most honest looking people can try to cover something up.

2. When would you like to move in?

This can tell you a lot about the resident as well. If the resident wants to move-in tomorrow, they may not be the most responsible person. Most landlords require 30 days notice to terminate a lease, and if this resident wants to move-in tomorrow, something may be off. Obviously special circumstances do apply, such as a pay cut, a sudden job transfer or domestic abuse, but in general, responsible residents will start their search for an apartment well in advance, at least a month, of their anticipated move-in date.

3. What is your current income?

This question can help you determine if the prospective resident will be able to afford the apartment. You will want to look for a resident whose monthly income is no less than two and a half times the monthly rent. For example, if the monthly rent is $1,500, you will want the resident to make no less than $3,750 a month.

Keep in mind that income is the most frequently lied about piece of an application. Before proceeding with an applicant make sure you do a credit check or look at the financial profile on the applicants Certn Report. The monthly income may not tell the whole story. Additional information, such as how much debt they have will impact their ability to pay on time.

4. Do you have the funds for security deposits, (or first and last month’s rent) upon application?

This will speak to their financial situation. You do not want to start a resident relationship where the resident already owes you money. You should never allow a resident to move-in who does not pay you this full amount before they move-in. Do not negotiate or make exceptions to this rule. Always require the full amount before move-in. Deposits are essential in case the resident becomes a problem or causes damage. Need to know if the person does, in fact, have the money? Certn’s financial profile can tell you.

5. Do you have any roommates or dependants?

You will want to look for a maximum of two people per bedroom. The fewer people in the apartment, the less wear and tear there will be on your property. Additionally, most municipalities and fire departments limit the number of people that can legally rent and reside in an apartment.

Overcrowding can be a health and safety risk.

6. Can you provide references?

If the prospective resident hesitates or makes excuses as to why they cannot provide references, they most likely have something to hide. References from an employer will help verify income and stable employment. You will want references from a former landlord because their current landlord may not tell you the whole truth because they may just be trying to get the resident off of their hands. It is often useful to obtain this information through Certn to prevent forgery, or fraud by the resident. It’s easy for most people these days to create fake employment letters or to provide fake references. Certn verifies the identities of references so you don’t have to!

7. Will you agree to a background check?

If the prospective resident will not consent to a background check, eliminate them from your prospective resident pool immediately. Verbal consent is not binding so make sure that they fill out the application online (through Certn) or give written consent.

8. Have you ever been evicted or charged with fraud?

While the prospective resident may not tell the truth, it is still worth asking. Directly asking the prospective resident if they have been evicted will give the resident an opportunity to explain the situation. Good people can fall on hard times and the eviction may be one blip in their lives and not a measure of who they truly are financially. If the eviction was for causing damage or excessive noise, these behaviours are not likely to change. This will also be verified in your Certn Report.

9. Do you have any pets?

If you have a "no pets" policy, a prospective resident with a pet will be a deal breaker. It is best to know right away, so you do not waste any more of your time interviewing them.

10. Do you have any questions?

Get to know the resident. This will help you build rapport. resident are much less likely to cause financial harm or damage to a unit that belongs to a friend compared to just a landlord. Give the resident their chance to ask questions about the apartment, location, screening process, or anything else that comes to mind. This is important because even if the resident has answered all of your qualifying questions to your satisfaction, the resident also has to be satisfied to want to live in your property. If there is a feature of your property or something that is unappealing to them about the screening process, you do not want to be wasting your time showing them the property and you might want to take that into consideration for future renovations or amenities.

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