What questions can I ask prospective tenants? - Rental News | rentalnews.co.nz

What questions can I ask prospective tenants?

When you’re looking for new tenants, you want to make sure you’re picking the best people for your property. Although it’s hard to be sure that your tenant is the right tenant, you can ask questions to help with your decision.

Your rental is an investment, and you’ve likely invested a lot of money into it. Because of this, it’s important that you find a tenant that is going to look after your property. Asking questions is one way of getting to know your tenant before they move in and sign the lease. Below we outline questions you can ask tenants during the screening process, as well as questions you can’t ask. 

The questions you can’t ask

Before you ask your tenant any questions, there are a few things that you cannot allow to influence your decision. These include:

  • marital status
  • age
  • employment status
  • religious beliefs
  • disability
  • political beliefs
  • sexual orientation
  • family status

Refusing a tenant on the grounds of one of these factors qualifies as discrimination, and it is illegal.

Now that you know what you can’t ask about, here are a few things you probably should be asking your prospective tenants.

The questions you should ask

Why are you moving?

This is a good general question to learn about the tenant’s lifestyle. Maybe they’ve moved for a new job opportunity or to find a bigger property for their family. You can also gage whether a tenant is unwilling to talk about their decision to move. While there could be a fair explanation behind this, it pays to be attentive to their answer.

Can you pay the bond and rent before you move in?

This question is going to give you a good idea of the tenant’s financial situation. You’ve got to be careful here as you cannot discriminate based on employment status, however, if the tenant is unable to afford the bond and the rent before the lease begins then this could indicate further financial troubles for you in the future.

Do you have any pets?

Make sure to ask instant dealbreakers early on. If you don’t allow pets in your property, it’s best to get that established before you spend too much time to the prospective tenant. If you do, you can take the time to discuss who is responsible for covering costs of repair, etc.

Can I perform a credit check?

This is another question that you’re going to want to ask relatively early on as you can’t do a credit check unless you have the tenant’s permission. This might not seem so important, but it has recently been deemed a requirement under most insurance providers. Credit checks are also important to protect you from annoyances like rent arrears. 

Next steps

Once you’ve gotten to know your prospective tenant, and have decided that they’re likely to be a good fit, it’s worth doing a bit of a background check on them. If you had them complete a pre-tenancy form, they will have provided references you can talk to. As different references can provide different perspectives, it is important to tailor your questions to the person and the relationship they have with the tenant. For more information on questions you should ask when checking references, see:

If your tenant permits this then you can also have a credit check complete. This is a good indicator of their financial situation. You can also see if they’re ever been to the Tenancy Tribunal, and if, so, what it was for. For more information on where you can complete a credit check, see:

If they clear all the checks, and you’re still feeling good about them, then it’s likely that you’ve found the right tenant for your property. Congratulations!
Featured photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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