7 Questions To Ask New Tenants (And The Answers You Don’t Want To Hear)

Looking for a new tenant? We’ve got seven questions that you’ll want to ask them before you even think about drawing up any paperwork. Oh and, just for fun, we’ve thrown in some of the answers that you definitely don’t want to hear as well…

Why are you moving?

“Oh, my last landlord was a total psycho. Actually, so was the one before that. And the one before that.”

Ever ask a new flame why they broke up with their ex and have them tell you a string of stories about all the crazy people they’ve dated?

A run of bad luck, whether with landlords or romantic interests, isn’t out of the question but it can be a bad sign. A move that’s related to a new job or being closer to family is likely to cause a lot less trouble.

When will you be moving in?

“Oh, tomorrow would be great!”

The sort of person who moves in on a whim is probably the same sort of person who will think little of spending money earmarked for rent on something frivolous like a flatscreen TV. Just saying.

How long will you be renting for?

“A couple of months ideally, as I’m probably going travelling soon.”

As a property owner, you should always be on the lookout for the holy grail: a quiet, well-behaved tenant who wants to stay for a long time. The longer a trouble-free tenant stays in the property, the less hassle you have.

Short leases mean more paperwork, more viewings, more credit checks and more headaches for you.

Are you gainfully employed?

“I’m actually a freelance juggler right now, so business is pretty tight in winter.”

Hey, I’ve got nothing against freelancers. Not least because I am one. But you want to make sure that your new tenant is not only able to afford the deposit and first month’s rent, but that they can afford the rent going forward.

Can I ask your employer and previous landlords for references?

“Why would you need to do that? What did they tell you about me?!”

Whatever you do, don’t ask their current landlord for a reference. On the off chance a tenant has been nothing but trouble, they could be tempted to wax lyrical about them in the hope of getting rid of them. Unethical, yes, but still a distinct possibility.

Who will be living in the property?

“Oh, just me and my partner. And the dog. And our octuplets.”

I’ve got nothing against slobbery dogs or big families (well, as long as I’m not sat next to them in a restaurant), and you might not either. But it’s a fact of life that more people in a property leads to more wear and tear.

Not a problem if you’re prepared to spend a little more keeping it in good shape, but definitely something to be aware of in advance.

Are you happy with the property as it is?

“Hmm, it’ll do for now I suppose.”

It won’t be long before a tenant like this decides that the bed is actually too lumpy for them to sleep on or they’re not happy with the storage and need another couple of wardrobes.

There’s taking care of necessary repairs and then there’s spending every Sunday installing new bathrooms and applying coats of paint…