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Screen prospective tenants thoroughly to find the right tenant

By Sadiya Anjum

If you’re ready to rent out a place, it is time to find the right tenant. Whether you’re a rookie or an old-hand, it is always slightly hard to determine if the person you let to is the right tenant for your rental. You have the right to screen and investigate, both officially and off the record, your prospective tenants. To prevent later misunderstandings and to avoid ugly surprises, here are the basic steps you can follow to check on your prospective tenants:

The First Call – The first time you hear from a prospective tenant is most likely to be through telephone. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask and also keep in mind all that you have to let them know regarding your rental. Find out, if you can, what exactly they are looking for before you pass on details. This will give you an idea of whether or not they will be suitable for the space you have. Most importantly, let them know about the rent and security deposit requirements and other important facts about the rental.

Then move on to the list of questions you have prepared for them – eg. name, telephone, reason for moving, number of people, pets etc. Base your questions on the concerns that are relevant to you. As long as you don’t get too personal, the serious customers will be more than happy to answer your questions. Post this phone call, if you are satisfied move on to the next step.

Property on Exhibit – When you have prospective tenants coming over, you bring out the guns to make sure that they like what they see. But don’t forget at any point, that it is a two way process. You too have to like what you see. Keep in mind some of these factors that will say a lot about your prospective tenants.

Your prospective tenant is trying to make the right first impression. So it is up to you to see what is real and what is not. Observe their appearance. Check if the person/s is clean and well kept. If the person is untidy, then you can be sure that if he/she cannot take a few minutes to make a good first impression, odds are that later impressions of the rental in his/her care will not be too pretty.

Studying their behavior and body language is essential at this point. Simple things a person does can say volumes about him/her. Apart from speaking politely and showing respect, see if the person behaves well too. For instance, did he/she wipe their shoes on the doormat before entering? Were they smoking when they first met you? Are the questions they ask about your property relevant or just things they’re picking on for later negotiations? Check for simple signs to determine if the person will prove to be difficult later.

Application Procedure – Firstly make sure your application form is top notch and gets you the details you want. After providing them with the application form, ask them to fill it out completely and to send it to you soon before anyone else steals the show. After you receive the form, let them know that you will get in touch with them as soon as you reach a decision.

Once you have the completed form in hand, scrutinize it with absolute care. Make sure you run a credit report on the applicant for your safety. Also, make sure you get references from them and follow up on these references. With the completed form itself, check to see if there are any inconsistencies and what you can do to clear these out. Only if you are thoroughly satisfied, pick up the phone and call them for the next step.

Finalizing the Deal – After you’ve made a decision let your prospective tenants know about it and tell them about any concessions you ‘made especially for them’ such as overlooking any minor credit discrepancies, etc.

Don’t forget that until both signatures are on the lease, you can still back out if the prospect doesn’t quite live up to your expectations. After setting the time, date and place for a meeting, inform them about the money they will have to bring and other documentation for verification.

Your lease document should also be up to the mark and make sure you read it too before you sign it. Even at this point, you can screen your prospect. For instance, did they bring the required documents? the right amount of money? are they arguing about unnecessary points in the lease? etc.


Screen your tenants carefully at every given point and opportunity you get. Most importantly, follow up on their references because the numbers they provide aren’t just for show. You have every right to examine and select tenants for your rental as long as you do not discriminate against sex, religion, beliefs, race, nationality, disability etc. So keep in mind every step mentioned above and turn a prospective tenant into the right tenant for your rental.

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