3 Easy Ways to Size Up a Rental Applicant

by | Feb 3, 2014 | Tenant Screening

When filling a vacancy, a landlord’s main goal is to quickly whittle down the list of rental applicants, eliminating potential problem tenants, and focusing valuable time and energy on the best prospects.

Here are three simple questions that can help landlords do just that:

tenant screening1) Are you ready to move?

The answer to this question can reveal a lot about an applicant. For instance, does this tenant seem desperate to move in right away? While that could merely reflect a tight rental market, it can also betray the applicant who is about to get evicted. Follow up with the other questions below to get the whole picture.

Asking this question also can help eliminate any applicant who is planning too far ahead — someone who will ask you to keep the vacancy open until it meets his or her schedule.

2) Have you given notice to your current landlord?

If the current landlord is not aware the tenant is leaving, that could be a sign of a bad rental history. Someone who fails to give proper notice is, at the very least,  not showing a sense of responsibility. Be sure to follow up with the current landlord to get the whole story.

Could this applicant simply be comparison shopping, wasting your time before they negotiate for a renewal with the current landlord?

3) Why are you interested in this property?

Typically, an applicant who doesn’t connect with the neighbourhood or property in some way is not interested in staying for the long term. This may be someone who winds up breaking the lease, leaving you to fill a vacancy at an unappealing time of year.

Another way to pose this question is to ask how the applicant found out about the vacancy. Someone who is responding to a rental sign or already knows something about the neighbourhood is a better bet for the long term of the lease.

On the other hand, if this applicant is answering every ad and can’t remember how they got to yours, that signals a low level of commitment. A lease may take longer to close. In a worst case scenario, this individual is searching for a novice landlord who won’t run a tenant background check.

A lack of interest in the location and in what the rental property has to offer is one of the red flags pointing to a problem tenant — someone who may be getting rejected from other properties.

It may be this applicant is weary from looking at multiple properties, or is not the ultimate decision-maker. Either way, this applicant may be wasting your time.

Take a few minutes to point out the best features of the property and the area, but if you still don’t see any enthusiasm from the applicant, you’re probably showing the property to someone who will not remember it.

Once you have pegged your best rental prospect, always have the person complete a rental application, and run a thorough tenant background check. Trust, but verify. Always.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

Property management software for Canadian Condos.

Property Boss

Property management software for single family, multifamily, and student housing.


Screening services for property managers and landlords. Select a market below.