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Choosing the right tenant can mean fewer issues and a better-maintained property. Choosing the wrong one can, however, result in stress, aggravation, and money. So, how do you weed the bad ones from the good?
We need to thoroughly screen them. A thorough tenant screening process involves asking for a legitimate rental application, a credit report, verifying with previous landlords, and running background and criminal checks on the potential tenant.
In this article, we are going to explain the top questions to ask potential Orlando tenants and what not to ask during the rental application stage.
Top Questions to Ask Prospective Orlando Tenants
1. When would you like to move in?
Be very careful if your prospective tenant wants to move in immediately. It could mean any of the following:
- They are not currently renting. If so, why?
- They are poor at planning.
- Their landlord asked them to leave.
- They are being evicted.
In addition, most landlords require that a tenant notify them thirty days prior to leaving the premises.
2. Why are you moving?
Here, you want to pay as much attention as possible. Beware of red flags for moving, such as trouble with neighbors/landlords, suing former landlords or being evicted. What you should be looking for are legitimate reasons for moving, such as wanting a bigger room or changing jobs.
3. What’s your monthly income like?
This question helps you determine whether the tenant will be able to pay rent without issues. As a general rule of thumb, look for a tenant making at least three times the monthly rent. That is, if the price of rent is $1,200 per month, then your prospective tenant should be making at least $3,600 every month.
That being said, their monthly rent may not tell you the full story. You need to look at how much debt they have and how it can affect their ability to pay rent. Checking their credit will help you in this regard.
4. Will you be able to pay your first month’s rent and security deposit upon move-in?
Always require new renters to pay the entire amount before they move in. Do not make any exceptions. Look for red flags such as the renter asking whether you will accept installments.
5. How long do you intend to live here?
As a landlord in Orlando, you probably know the value of having a long-term tenant. With a long-term tenant, you’ll be able to save on tenant turnover costs. Here, the answer you are looking for should be nothing less than one year.
6. Do you have pets?
If you allow pets, then look for a person who will adhere to your pet policy. For example, a person who will agree to your pet policy regarding the breed, size, type, and the number of pets allowed. Also, if you charge a deposit or any fee, let the tenant know.
If you don’t allow pets, let the tenant know that keeping any will be a violation of the Orlando lease agreement. They may face penalties or get evicted from the premises.
7. Will you consent to a credit and background check?
If they won’t, consider it a red flag. Move on to the next prospective client. If they agree, have the prospective tenant sign a form agreeing that they have consented to the checks.
Consents made verbally may not be binding.
8. Can you provide references from your former landlord and employer?
References from a former landlord will help you know more about the tenant’s rental history. References from an employer will help you verify their income, as well as establish whether their employment is stable.
If the potential renter is hesitant to provide these crucial details, it’s best to move on. It’s likely they are hiding something.
9. Do you smoke?
If you have a no-smoke policy and the renter replies with a resounding “Yes”, disqualify them immediately. Damage resulting from smoking is expensive to fix. You may need to replace the flooring and re-paint the walls.
Top Questions Not to Ask Prospective Orlando Tenants
In Orlando, there are certain questions that you should never ask tenants. Generally, these are questions that are against the provisions of the Federal Fair Housing Act.
The act makes it illegal for any Orlando landlord to ask questions that are discriminating against certain protected classes. Some of these protected classes include religion, familial status, disability, and national origin.
You can’t ask a tenant anything regarding religion. For example, “Are you Buddhist?”
The number of children a renter has should be none of your concern. However, you can ask them about the number of occupants there will be.
Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, you can’t ask whether the prospective tenant has a service animal. This is because they may interpret it to mean that you discriminate against the disabled. You could, however, ask for the animal’s certification status.
You can’t ask which country an applicant is from.
You should also avoid asking any question that is not part of your screening process. To avoid being accused of discrimination, ensure that you follow the exact same procedures for all applicants.
For instance, it would be discriminatory to ask one question to well-dressed people and another to people who aren’t necessarily well dressed. Another example is if you run credit checks on one particular race and not on the others.
You cannot ask an applicant whether they have been arrested. Being arrested and being convicted of a crime are two different things. A background check can also help you with this. Just make sure that the renter consents to the check before running it.
As an Orlando landlord, it’s your right to screen prospective tenants. Nevertheless, you need to know which questions to ask and which ones are off limits. Hopefully, with this guide, you’ll be able to thoroughly screen tenants while ensuring the process is in accordance with Orlando’s rental law.