landlord with prospective tenants inside

September 14th, 2018

8+ questions every landlord should be prepared to answer

Seasoned renters have been both literally and physically “around the block” a few times. Some of them will take potential landlords to task concerning the property and relationship they’re considering.

Depending on the condition of your property and how honestly you answer their questions, you could lose out on an amazing tenant, one who is really just looking for the right fit.

Potential renters will look at the hard evidence of the property itself, surely, but they’ll also try to extract any information that a landlord wouldn’t necessarily want to share.

Below we’re going to cover some of the questions all landlords should be prepared to answer from prospective tenants.

What is your screening and application process?

This question will come from tenants looking to understand the landlord’s screening process. They’re probably trying to see if they fit your standards, or wish to know what they should start preparing.

Let them know if there are interviews, reference checks and/or credit checks. If a landlord doesn’t know if the credit inquiries are “hard” or “soft,” a tenant may become skeptical of their competence.

How soon would you like the unit occupied?

Tenants aren’t looking to waste anyone’s time – theirs or the landlord’s. If a landlord is looking to fill the place immediately, and the prospective tenant still has a month or two of notice to go at their current place, they might not be able to meet the move-in date.

What is the length of your lease? Is it a written lease?

When you discuss your lease, a tenant needs to know how much commitment is required on the property. This can help them decide if the place is right for them and the information you give them will concern both their budget and their staying power.

What types of payment methods are accepted for rent?

Keep in mind, it’s 2018. Some landlords are old fashioned, preferring cheques, cash, or money orders as rent payment.

Ideal landlords will make it easy for tenants to pay their rent. E-transfers allow rent to be an automated process for both the tenant and landlord. Recordkeeping can also be simplified with online transfers.

If a landlord only accepts cash, be prepared for a walk.

How much interest has the unit seen?

If you tell the renter there hasn’t been much interest, they’re going to wonder why. If you tell them there has been a lot of interest, they may ramp up their application efforts.

Always be honest about this -- a renter will find out the truth eventually.

What is the subletting policy?

Life happens, and renters expect their landlords to be flexible in response to those life happenings.

If a renter has to move out for a couple of months due to work or study abroad, the ability to sublet their place while still retaining ownership of the lease could be a high priority for some.

A landlord should detail their stance on subletting (which cannot be unreasonably denied). Perhaps a simple screening of the subtenant is all that's required. Informing the prospective renter of your subletting policy beforehand is always a good idea.

Who is your ideal tenant?

This question will be asked to gauge your character. If your response is something like “I only rent to single white women because they’re clean and quiet,” you’ll be marked automatically as unfair and discriminatory.

A renter might assume that you’re likely to discriminate in other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship too, forcing them to move on to a landlord who seems less prejudicial.

Regardless of your answer, this question can reveal a lot about you.

Would you live here?

This question will reveal how good (or bad) the property is to live in. If the landlord lights up and details all the great amenities nearby, the tenant might start to think the place is in a high-demand area.

If the landlord looks away and says something like “I would have when I was younger, but not now” the renter might wonder why. Are there pests? Are appliances in disrepair? Is the neighbourhood dangerous?

Again, be honest here, as everything will eventually come out in the wash.

More questions a landlord can expect

Renters are entering into a binding agreement, in most cases, and will want to know all the facts before handing over first and last.

Some more questions landlords can expect are listed below. Knowing where you stand on these issues will make you look like the upfront and straightforward landlord that people expect and appreciate.

  • What is your pet policy? Is there a pet deposit involved?
  • After the lease ends, will I be asked to renew, or will we go month-to-month?
  • Is there parking available? How does it work?
  • What is the guest policy? (Also known as the boyfriend/girlfriend policy)
  • Who typically makes repairs on the property if needed?
  • Describe the neighbourhood
  • Has the property experienced any break-ins?