When you’re screening Irvine tenants, you want to be sure you’re placing residents who can be counted on to pay the rent on time, take care of your property, and follow the terms of your lease agreement. The screening process needs to be consistent and compliant with all fair housing laws. Before you even take a look at the application, however, you should do some pre-screening to ensure the prospective tenants are qualified for your home. You want to save yourself the time and energy required to screen effectively, and you want to save those tenants an application fee if they’re not likely to be approved for your home.
Here are the top 5 questions that you should ask – and the top 5 questions you should avoid.
Questions to Ask a Potential Irvine Tenant
1. Ask about why they’re moving and when they plan to move. It’s important that their timeline aligns with yours. You want to get a tenant placed as quickly as possible so you’re collecting rent right away. If the potential tenants are not planning to move for three months, they might not be the best fit. Conversely, if they’re desperate to move in 24 hours from the time they contact you, it might be a huge red flag.
You want to know when they’re moving and you also want to know why. Are they having a hostile dispute with their current landlord? Are they being evicted? Or, are they simply looking for more or less space or maybe a new neighborhood?
2. Ask about income. You’ll need to know that they can afford the rent you’re charging. When you do a complete tenant screening, you’ll ask for income verification and do the math to ensure it adds up. During the pre-screening, you’ll want to make sure they earn enough to meet your qualifying standards.
3. Ask who is moving in. You never want to ask about children or marital status. But, you are entitled to ask how many people will be moving into the property. A one-bedroom unit is unlikely to accommodate a family of eight.
4. Ask about past evictions. Most landlords and Irvine property managers do not want to rent to tenants who have been evicted in the past, especially the recent past. If your rental criteria immediately disqualifies someone with an eviction in their past, you should let your prospective tenants know that. You’ll check eviction histories during the screening, but it’s always a good practice to let your potential tenants know what you will consider and what you won’t in terms of prior evictions.
5. Ask about pets. Pet-friendly properties tend to rent faster than those that do not allow pets. If you’re vehemently opposed to pets, don’t waste your time screening a tenant with three dogs. If you’re willing to consider pets on a case-by-case basis, talk about the prospective tenant’s animals and whether they would work for your property.
Questions Never to Ask a Potential Irvine Tenant
Educate yourself on all federal and state fair housing laws. If you’re found to violate a tenants rights by discriminating based on one of the protected classes listed in the state and federal laws, you’ll face a lengthy investigation and a steep fine. Never ask questions like:
- Are you married?
- Do you have children?
- What country are you from?
- Are you disabled?
- Are you religious?
These are examples of questions that are inappropriate and illegal.
If you’re not sure how you should be screening and communicating with tenants, don’t keep guessing. Instead, work with a professional Irvine property management company. We can handle the entire leasing process for you efficiently and within the legal fair housing framework.
Contact our team at HCM Property Management.