The National Association of Realtors (NAR) suggests screening tenants for rental properties using written application forms. In fact, it’s at the top of their list! The right inquiries help gauge whether tenants have the qualities you’re looking for.

When it comes to finding tenants, landlords should have a lot of questions. Use an online form to collect information on major themes, such as the potential tenant’s qualifications, reliability, and employment status (can the applicant pay the rent?). Screening tenants is an important part of being a landlord and asking the right questions can help ensure that you’re making a wise decision when renting your property. So, let’s take a look at some of the things you should be asking potential tenants as well as ones you should avoid.

Questions To Ask Your Potential Tenants

Logistical Questions

potential tenant

When you’re screening potential tenants, you’ll want to start by asking some logistical questions. The following inquiries give you a better sense of a candidate’s situation and whether they qualify to rent your property:

  • What is your current living situation?
  • How many people will be living in the rental unit?
  • When do you plan on moving?
  • What are you looking for in a rental unit?

These answers will help you quickly weed out candidates with move dates or living requirements that don’t match your goals and availability.

If the potential tenant has pets, you’ll want to ask some additional questions about their animals. These questions will help you determine if their pets are a good fit for your rental property and if they care for their pets responsibly:

  • Do you have any pets?
  • What type of pet do you have?
  • How many pets do you have?
  • Are your pets up to date on their vaccinations?
  • Do you have pet insurance?
  • Are you willing to pay a pet deposit?

Rental History Questions

Since rental history is such an important part of screening tenants, you’ll want to ask a number of questions related to their past experiences. In this way, you get a better sense of their rental history and whether they’re likely to be a good fit for your property.

Here are some rental history questions to add to your application:

  • How long have you been renting?
  • Have you ever been evicted from a rental property?
  • Have you ever had any problems with your landlords?
  • Why are you moving?

Other Occupant Questions

landlord and tenant

When screening tenants, you’ll want to ensure that all occupants are qualified to rent your property. Here are some questions you should ask about other occupants:

  • Who will be occupying the rental unit?
  • How many people will be occupying the rental unit?
  • What are their ages?

You should consider collecting employment information, such as verification of income, on all potential adult tenants. This way, you know that each person can pay their share of the rent and other expenses.

Behavioral Questions

Assess the tenant’s history of behavior. Next, you’ll want to ask some questions that will help you understand their current situation and whether they’re likely to be a good fit for your property. Here are some behavioral questions you should ask:

  • How often will guests be visiting?
  • Do you have any hobbies that could potentially be disruptive?
  • You’ll be responsible for landscaping or lawn care; do you have any experience with this?
  • How do you typically handle disagreements?
  • Do you prioritize paying your bills on time?

Income Questions

Make sure your shortlisted applicants can pay the rent. The best candidates have held the same job for at least two years. Here’s how to address this on your rental application form:

  • What is your current job situation?
  • How long have you worked for your current employer?
  • Do you have any other sources of income?
  • What is your monthly income?
  • Do you have any current or past due bills?

Criminal Background Questions

Most landlords don’t want to rent to tenants with a history of crime. Therefore, you must run criminal background checks to protect your other tenants. However, you can streamline the process by asking the right questions upfront.

Here are some questions to ask about an applicant’s criminal background:

  • Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
  • Do you have any current or pending criminal cases?
  • Are you on probation or parole?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a violent crime?

tenant and landlord

Finally, you’ll want to ask some questions about the rental process. So that there are no surprises, you’ll want to make potential tenants aware of your policies and procedures. Here are some process-related questions you should ask:

  • How do you plan on paying rent?
  • Are you familiar with our pet policy?
  • Are you familiar with our parking policy?
  • What is your move-in date?
  • What is your move-out date?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Do Not Ask These Questions!

There are some questions you should avoid to protect the privacy and rights of applicants. These topics could lead to legal issues, so steer clear of them altogether. Avoid offending or excluding candidates with the following questions:

  • What is your country of origin?
  • What is your ethnic background?
  • What is your religion?
  • What is your marital status?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • What is your gender identity?

Final Words

By asking these questions, you’ll get a better sense of the potential tenant’s rental history, current financial situation, and criminal background. By screening tenants thoroughly, you can help ensure that your property is rented to qualified, responsible tenants. Do you need help putting together your tenant application? makes tenant screening easier with state-of-the-art software designed with rental property owners in mind,

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