How to find a great tenant

How To Find A Great Tenant For Your Rental

All landlords want great tenants. How do you find a great tenant for your vacant rental property though?

Searching for a great tenant can seem like an impossible task. I have found that you have to talk to a lot people to find one or two who will fit your description of what a great tenant is.

The first step is to list your rental requirements on your listing so that you discourage those who don’t qualify not to contact you.  The second step is to conduct a thorough pre-screening of every interested party before you show the property. Why bother to allow people to see your vacant rental property if you on’t know if they would even qualify to rent from you?  The third step is meet interested parties in person.


Pre Screening Potential Tenants

We are going to talk about Step Two of this process which is the pre-screening step.

Advantages of Pre-Screening:

  • Find out more about anyone interested in your property
  • Eliminate a lot of people because they don’t qualify
  • Only show your property to people who meet your qualifications


Keep in mind that at this point, you will only have verbal answers to your questions. Hopefully, no one lies to you but you will find that out when someone actually submits an applications. That would be grounds for immediate denial.


What Questions Should You Ask?

For Fair Housing reasons, always ask the same questions of every person that calls. Going through this process will help you identify people who can potentially be a great tenant for you.

The longer you do this, the more rhythm you will have. If you notice that you are getting mostly through the list of questions and keep reaching one that is disqualifying, change the order of questions.

For example, if you do not allow pets, ask that question close to the beginning. There is no reason to ask a lot of other questions if this person has a pet.

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 these questions or change them however you want.

Some basic questions that I start with are listed below. Be sure to customize them or rearrange the order to suite you. If you don’t accept pets, move the pets question up closer to the top. I can’t tell you how many times I asked that towards the end and had to tell them I was sorry.


Examples of Pre Screening Questions:

  1. How many people will be living in the home?
  2. Where do you live now?
  3. How much is your rent?
  4. Why are you moving?
  5. If you’ve been at your current residence for less than two years, why do you move so frequently?
  6. What type of pets do you have?
  7. Where do you work?
  8. How long have you been in your current job?
  9. How much is your gross monthly income?
  10. Do you have any credit issues that we need to know about?
  11. If you have Section 8:
  12. How long have you been on section 8?
  13. Have you met with your caseworker yet?
  14. Do you have a voucher and how much is it for?
  15. How many bedrooms are you approved for?
  16. How soon do you want to move in?


Again, customize the questions to meet your needs.  Your questions should always be open ended in order to encourage everyone to tell you more. Be prepared to ask more questions as needed and ask for more details.

This process is easy to implement and allows you to easily see who doesn’t meet your basic guidelines.  A qualified list of pre-screened people will start you on the path to finding a great tenant!