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Top Questions to Ask Tenants in a Rental Application

Similar to how a typical tenant checklist includes things like location and budget, there are certain things landlords should know about their intending renters. And while background and credit history checks have their place, they can’t completely replace a face-to-face interview with a potential tenant. 

Here are the top questions you should ask tenants in a rental application. 

What is your monthly income? 

Inquiring about a person’s earning capacity is an essential tenant screening question because it gives you an idea of whether they can meet up with rent. Understandably, you might be hesitant to ask. But the right candidate will be open to giving you a rough estimate to help soothe your worries about payment problems. 

Why are you moving out of your current home?

Take time to find out why the tenant wants to leave their current home. Moving isn’t easy business, and understanding their motivation could reveal some underlying issues with their previous landlord. However, you’re most likely to get reasonable replies such as price, better accommodation, or easier commute. 

 Do you smoke? 

Rental Application

It might seem out of place to inquire about an applicant’s habits, but due to the amount of property damage smoke can cause, landlords are within their right to ask. The smoke usually lingers in curtains, carpets, and other pieces of furniture and can be a turnoff to other residents, so if you have a smoking policy in your building, now would be a good time to state it. 

Have you ever been convicted of a crime? 

The last thing you want is the police sealing off your unit because it is a crime scene. Inquiring about criminal history is crucial to avoid encounters with the police and possible payment issues. 

Have you ever been evicted? 

Records show that many tenants follow a pattern. In other words, if a renter has been evicted once, they have a higher likelihood of being evicted again. Of course, that isn’t always the case, and asking gives the person the opportunity to explain. However, it would help to cross-check their story with previous landlord references. 

Do you have any pets? 

Rental Application

As adorable as pets, they can also constitute a nuisance through scratches, allergens, and noise pollution. So you must ask if your prospective tenants have pets, how many, and what control measures they plan on implementing to keep their animals in check. Also, if your rental isn’t pet-friendly, now would be a good time to let that known so the tenant can make alternate arrangements. 

Do you have any questions for me? 

Finally, take time to answer any questions the prospective tenant might have about the application process. When you open up the floor for them to speak their mind, you create room to clear up any misunderstandings and ensure you’re both on the same page. 


Proper applicant screening can save you from a great deal of trouble in the future. However, in a bid to know as much as you can about a tenant, you have to avoid specific questions that might come off as discriminatory. With caution, you need to thread around questions about religion, sexual orientation, and other protected classes. If you’re unsure whether the questions you’ve outlined are okay, check with your property manager to understand Fair Housing requirements in your area

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