We created this questionnaire for your prospective tenants so that you can find the best tenant possible for your property.  It is important the you as a landlord try and find the best suited tenant for your property, because the better the tenant the less time, money and effort they will cost you.

Lets start…

1.    Why are you moving?

You want to look out for legitimate reasons why the prospective tenant is moving.  Reasons like a new job or a bigger space are all acceptable answers.  But something like arguments with the landlord or evictions are clear red signs.   Best to understand the prospective tenants reasoning, one can learn a lot about the tenant.

2.    When do you plan on moving in?

This questions tends to teach you about the responsibility of the prospective tenant. If the tenant tell you they want to move in tomorrow, you should ask why so sudden.  Where the tenant evicted and not telling you about it or where there other personal reasons.  The point is that most reasonable tenants will start looking a month in advance, seeing as a month notice needs to be given with their previous renting unit.

3.    How long do you plan on living here?

This is something that is really for you, knowing how long your prospective tenant plans on staying will help you to plan better.

Are you looking for a short term or long term tenant?

4.    What is your monthly income?

Alot of tenants will be uncomfortable to answer this question, but it’s a question worthy of asking.  It is normally thought that your rent shouldn’t be more than a third of your total income.  This is true when a tenant has a lot of other debt, but if you have a prospective tenant with no debt their income to rent ratio can obviously be smaller.

5.    Will you have the first month rent and security deposit ready upon moving in?

This is one of those questions that only requires one answer, “yes”.  If the prospective tenant comes with reasons for not having the deposit you should walk away.  This is already an indication of the tenants financial situation, paying back later or with installments are not an option with rent.

6.    How many people will be living in the unit?

In South Africa it is important to know this, you don’t want a township in your small bachelors apartment.  The golden rule is that you should allow two people per bedroom, no more.  A young couple with a small child is acceptable for a bachelor’s unit, but a couple and a teenager are not.

7.    What about your credit rating and background check?

A Background and credit rating check is important.  It is recommended that you consider using a property management company for this part.  These companies know what to look for and what the red sign are.

8.    Have you ever been evicted?

It is to be expected that most people will lie about this, however if a prospective tenant has been evicted before, they can at least explain the situation.

If the eviction was caused by damages or excessive noise then you should decline them immediately, this is most certainly a red flag.

9.    Do you have any pets?

If the prospective tenants have any pets and you have a “no-pets” policy then the prospective tenant is obviously denied.  If you have a pet friendly unit then you need to know what kinds of pet the tenant has.

Are they big dogs, small dogs, cats, fish, birds?  The point is you need to know if their pets will fit in with the environment your rental unit offers.  Also ask the tenant what kind of personality the pets have, stangly this also tells you a lot about the person.

10.    Can you present me with any references?

Good and honest people have nothing to hide and will most probably not want to give you a reference, but they will be able to give you a reference.  It is recommended that you get in touch with their employer, this will give you a good understanding of the person, their financial situation and if there a any major personal problems.

Asking a previous landlord is also a good method to go with, however you should be aware that some landlords will ie to try and get rid of a bad tenant.

There are many questions one can ask a prospective tenant in order to learn more about who will be living in your space.  You need to understand that as the landlord you have the right to choose who you allow to live in your space, but you should always remain respectful and tactful of your approach and questioning.
I always say that if you happen to find the perfect tenant, but they can’t pay the full rent, then maybe consider dropping the price.  A good tenant is worth more than the few Rands you will make extra.

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Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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