Fine Tuning Your Pre-Screening Process Case Study


Fine tuning your pre-screening process is something you will continue to do as your business and your experience evolves. Click To Tweet


Pre-screening Is Not Easy For Everyone

Pre-screening tenant is something that I talk about a lot.  I have been training a new person in the office and this always seems to be the hardest thing to train.  However, this lady is brilliant! 


She was talking to a lady that was dropping off an application and I sat back and listened to her talk to this prospective tenant.  This applicant had some credit challenges and the new lady in the office was able to get her talking.  I was really impressed because she is very observant and asked a question I didn’t think of.

Use A Pre-Screening Form

When you start pre-screening someone, always start off with the same basic questions, but be prepared to switch gears. This is where fine tuning your pre-screening process comes in.  Often times, you will need to deviate from your original line of questioning in order to clarify what you are being told.  The goal when talking to people you don’t know, is to ask open ended questions.


The goal when talking to people you don’t know, is to ask open ended questions. Click To Tweet


Why do you want to ask open ended questions?


Because it allows the person you are pre-screening the opportunity to explain their lives to you.


Fountain Of Information

It is amazing how much information someone will tell you when you ask open ended questions!  Depending on how much information you want to know, you can add to your basic screening questions or change them to better you’re your needs as time progresses.


Your goal is to find out as much about a potential tenant as you can.  Asking open ended questions does not come easily to everyone.  It may be something that you have to practice.  Grab a friend and have them pretend to be a tenant with some issues. The rewards will be great if you can learn this skill. 

Develop Your Pre-Screening Skills

Pre-screening tenants is actually a skill.  Finding a great tenant for your rental property depends on you becoming skilled at asking open ended questions.  You will find out so much about the person you are talking to when you just throw a great question out there and just shut up and listen!


Asking open ended questions gets you more information. Click To Tweet

 Case Study:  

You are not allowed to ask how many kids this person has but you can ask “How many people are in your family”.  Wow.  Many times this will open a flood gate and you just need to start writing!


“Well, I have 6 kids but only 4 of them live with me full time.  I have 3 boys and 3 girls and we also have 2 dogs, a cat, a hamster and a small 50 gallon fish tank. 


The boys are 6, 14, and 16 and the girls are 8, 10 and 12.  But only the 3 girls and 1 boy live with me.  My 6 year old, my 8 year old and my 10 year old receive social security benefits but the other ones don’t live with me full time so they will only be there a few days a week. 


One of them has some behavior issues which is one reason why we are moving because he / she just didn’t get along with the neighbors kids. 


We wanted to stay in the same school system but it just doesn’t seem like it will be possible since we can’t find a home big enough in that area.


But we really like the area this home is in and I wondered if you could meet me over there in 15 minutes so that we can see it.”

Keep in mind, I just asked “How many people are in your family.” 

Asking open ended questions will usually get you way more information than if you ask specific “yes” or “no” questions.  Many times they are nervous, or excited, and just talk way too much. 


Sometimes they will tell you stuff they shouldn’t but, if you didn’t ask for it, that is not your fault. We have had a couple of cases where the potential tenant is involved in domestic dispute and you need to use caution in these cases.  In two cases, the home was damaged when the significant other came to the home and violence resulted.


Starting Place

It can be difficult to remember what questions to ask and you do need to be thorough.  When I first started, I made a very basic tenant screening form to help me remember all of my questions.  Fine tuning your pre-screening process will happen naturally over the years.


The key is to come up with open ended questions and then just let them talk.  Have a list of “extra” questions for when they throw out some unexpected information. 


Using open ended questions often opens up a flood gate of information and it can be overwhelming sometimes.  Take great notes so that you can refer back and sort through everything you have been told.


Pre-screening tenants is a system and all businesses need systems to be successful.  Learn more about systems for landlords by clicking here.