Every landlord in Centennial understands how important it is to thoroughly screen tenants. The right screening process produces quality, long-term tenants. However, for you to achieve this success, you need to do it the right way.
That means, checking the tenant’s rental and criminal background, as well as verifying their credit and income sources. In addition to this, the Colorado landlord-tenant law requires the process to be free from discrimination.
In this post, we will discuss top questions to ask potential Centennial tenants, as well as questions that could get you into some legal hot water.
Top 6 Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants
1. What is your reason for moving?
This should be the first question you ask your prospective tenants. If a renter hesitates to answer consider it a red flag. Knowing their reason for moving will give you some crucial details about them.
Are they looking for a bigger place to live? Are they moving to get closer to their new job? Were they evicted by their previous landlord? Paying close attention to their answers can help identify whether the prospective renter is a good bet or not.
2. Will you be able to give me references from your previous employer and landlord?
References will tell you a lot about the tenant. A reference from an employer can inform you on the trustworthiness, reliability, and performance of the prospective tenant. A person who is rude has a low work ethic, and is always late for work can mean the person will be difficult to deal with.
A reference from a previous landlord can help you understand whether the tenant will be a good fit for your Colorado property or not. If they don’t want previous landlords contacted, don’t jump to conclusions. In some cases, it could be the landlord who is problematic.
When speaking with the previous landlord, remember to ask them:
- Would you rent to this tenant again? If they would, great! If they wouldn’t, get them to tell you their reasons.
- Was there damage to the property while the renter lived there? If the renter was negligent previously, it’s likely they will do the same in the future.
- Do you know why the renter is planning on moving? Renters must notify their landlords of their planned move at least 30 days before the move-out date. If the landlord doesn’t know that the renter is moving, consider it a red flag.
- Were there any complaints from neighbors about the tenant? If there were, don’t expect it to stop when the tenant moves into your rental property.
- Did the tenant pay rent on time? This is perhaps the most important question to ask. If the tenant had problems paying rent, continue with your search. Late rent payments can mean serious cash flow problems or costly eviction.
With all these questioned answered, you’ll certainly be able to make the appropriate decision.
3. Will you allow a check on your background and credit?
Ask them for a credit and background check to see if they are trustworthy and reliable. If the renter doesn’t oppose it, you’ll be able to see the tenant’s credit score. A score of 620 and above is good.
If the renter opposes the check, consider it a red flag. Chances are they is hiding something.
A background check will help you establish whether the tenant has been evicted before. It’ll also help you determine whether the tenant has a criminal past. But before you do any of these checks, make sure you have their permission.
4. How many people will live in the property?
Generally speaking, the lesser people the better. More people will cause more wear and tear. This means more repair and maintenance costs for you. Ideally, look for a maximum of two people per bedroom. Take a look at Colorado’s occupancy limit for more info.
5. Do you intend to keep pets?
It’s always good to cover your bases. Ask this question again even if you had covered it in your listing. If you allow pets, make sure they agree with your pet policies. If you don’t allow pets, make sure they consent not to keep any.
6. What is your monthly income?
As a landlord, it’s smart to ask your Centennial tenants this question. You want a tenant who makes triple the price of rent. For example, if the rent is $1,200, you want a tenant who makes at least $3,600 every month.
Top 6 Questions Not to Ask Prospective Tenants
In Centennial, there are questions which you shouldn’t ask prospective tenants. If you do, you risk being accused of discrimination. The last thing you want is a lawsuit resulting from a fair housing violation. Avoid asking these questions:
1. Which religion do you belong to?
Although it may seem innocent, it’s a direct violation of the Colorado Fair Housing Act. One may assume that you favor one religion against the other. A tenant’s religious affiliation should be none of your concern.
2. How many kids do you have?
This is another big no-no. Anything relating to kids is off limits.
3. Do you have any disabilities?
Although your intention may be good, this is contrary to the provisions of the Federal Fair Housing Rules. A person’s disability, regardless of its severity, shouldn’t concern you.
4. What’s your sexual orientation?
If you ask this question, you risk facing severe penalties. It has absolutely no place in the conversation.
5. Have you ever been arrested?
You cannot ask a prospective tenant if they have ever been arrested. The arrest record of a tenant is off limits. You can ask whether the tenant has ever been convicted of a crime. Better yet, you can, with their consent, conduct a background check on them.
6. Where were you born?
Asking about someone’s nationality is against the provisions of the Federal Fair Housing Act. Avoid it even if you are simply curious about their accent.
There you have it. Six questions to ask and not to ask prospective tenants. If you need additional help, please seek the advice of a competent Colorado property management company or hire the services of a professional Centennial attorney.