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Questions to Ask Tenants before Signing a Lease

tenant screeningIt is always a good idea to pre-screen a potential tenant. Once a lease is signed, it can be difficult to do anything about it until they have done something to warrant eviction. Anytime you are accepting a new tenant, you should be ready to ask them a few things. Here are five excellent and general questions to ask as a part of a pre-screening interview.

1. Why are you moving?

This is important. The answers may tell you quite a bit about the tenant. You want to hear logical reasons – growing family or job change.

2. When will you be moving in?

Vague answers – tomorrow, next week and the like are not what you want to hear. This can mean they are not ready to move or are in an eviction process. Anyone looking beyond a month to move in is not ready to commit either. Shoot for a solid date if possible.

3. What is your monthly income?

This amount needs to be 2.5 to 3 times the rent of the location. This is only to be sure the tenant can afford the rent payment. Later, follow up with if they have security deposit plus first month’s rent. This is an excellent way to learn their real income without being too intrusive.

4. I want references from your former landlords and employer. What is their contact information?

Notice the question comes after a statement. Asking if you “can” do something means you may get an answer that will not be exactly what you want to hear. Instead, you are asking for their contact information, something that cannot be faked or misleading.

5. I require a rental application, background and credit check. When can you fill one out?

Again, the question is after a direct statement. This way the potential tenant cannot work their way around your requests. If they do give a runaround answer, red flags should go up.

RPM Wake uses these questions when interviewing a potential tenant. We help several landlords maintain their rental properties and keep them filled with happy and quality tenants. If we can help you with your rental properties, give us a call, email or check the website for what we can do for you.

Let our property management experts give you tips on pre-screening interview and managing your property. Give us a call at (919)747-3488.


We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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