Questions To Ask
♦ How many adults and children are in your family that would be
occupying the home / apartment? What are the children’s ages? A
large number of children is not necessarily a negative. One of my
best tenants had nine children. See Case in Point # 2, Hoyne; in my book.
♦ What are your sources of income?
♦ What are your debts?
♦ Where do you live now?
♦ Why are you moving?
♦ Do you have any negative marks on your credit report?
Let them feel you are going to pull a credit report even if you are not. I
recommend you have your final candidates provide you with a current copy of
their credit report. Provide them with the information they will need to order it
An alternative to this is to establish a relationship with a loan officer, such as the
one you use or will use for your mortgages.
Their companies are hooked up to the credit bureau. The loan officer
can pull up a credit report quickly for you and without cost. Also, there are “for
pay” services available. Besides providing a credit report, they also do a
judgment search to see if the tenant has ever had a rental or any other kind of a
judgment against them.
♦ Have you ever been evicted or taken to court over a rent dispute?
Of course, if they have, most will lie about it. However, if they are
bold enough to say yes, for whatever reason, perhaps they felt they
were justified in their dispute with the landlord. Regardless, you do
not want them. They are now savvy to how the process works. It will
be more hassle and take longer to evict them. The credit report may
also reflect a prior eviction or rental money judgment.
For Section 8 tenants:
♦ Ask the same questions as above.
♦ How many bedrooms are you qualified for?
♦ The amount of rent section 8 pays is based on the number of
bedrooms the tenant is qualified for, which is based on the number of
children in the family.
♦ What is their source of income; public aid, food stamps, child
support, a job?
♦ Ask if they are going to school?
♦ When presenting as a single mom, ask if the father of children or
another male person, sometimes it is a brother, comes around and
sometimes stays over?
You will find that a male person sometimes lives with them all the time.
Section 8 just does not know about them. I actually view this as a positive
because the family has more of a support system. And the male person can help
out around the home with mowing grass, shoveling snow etc.
I will also mention here that I do not rent to unrelated couples who are not
married who just want to shack up. Besides the main reason of it not being
morally correct, it is a high risk situation for a landlord. There is not sufficient
commitment in the relationship to weather the storms. Those who are married
understand what I mean. Any relationship has ups and downs, disagreements,
arguments etc. Shack up situations make it easy for one person to just pack up
and take off in a heated rush. The person left behind may not be able or want to
pay rent anymore. Now you have a problem!
More screening tips in Part 4 to come