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9 Tenant Interview Questions for Antioch Rental Properties

As a landlord, your goal is to place the highest quality tenants in your Antioch, CA rental property as possible. With that comes background checks, income and employment verifications, and reference checks. It also comes with property management company interviews.

But have you ever thought about interviewing your tenants?


If you want to find quality tenants and rest easy that your property is being cared for the right way, you have to talk to your prospective tenants before they move in. More than that, you have to know the types of questions to ask people interested in leasing from you. That’s why today we’re sharing the top questions to ask to find quality tenants for your Antioch rental home.


Top Questions to Ask to Find Quality Tenants

1. When Would You like to Move In?

Vacancies are an Antioch rental property owner’s worst nightmare. After all, if you don’t have any tenants in your property, you’re not making any money. That’s why so many landlords look for the best ways to lease their properties fast.

It’s also why placing tenants in your rental sooner than later is ideal. If a tenant reaches out wanting more information about your available property, you should ask them when they’re looking to move. If their answer is not for a few months, you might want to reconsider placing them. If you wait, your property sits vacant. And chances are, there’s another tenant ready to move in right away.


2. Why Are You Moving?

There are many reasons why people move from one rental to another. For example, job relocations, outgrowing a small apartment, or wanting to save on commute time are just a few. That said, asking a potential tenant why they’re moving might reveal a character trait you don’t like. For instance, maybe they have a lot of landlord complaints. Or perhaps they got kicked out by a roommate.

While it’s important to ask all tenants why they’re moving, make sure to follow up with their previous landlord too. Their answer may not include the entire truth. In fact, an old landlord might clue you in to the fact that their tenant didn’t pay rent or is in the middle of an eviction. Obviously, that’s not the type of tenant you’re trying to place in your property.


3. Do You Have Any Pets?

According to the American Veterinary Association, 50% of renters have pets.

Before taking the interview process of a prospective tenant any further, ask them about their pets. This is especially important if you have a strict no pet policy in your Antioch rental. By asking this question right away, you weed out tenants that aren’t a good fit. This saves both you and the tenant a lot of time and effort.

If you do allow pets in your rental property, but have restrictions about breed and size, now is the time to find out about the applicant’s pets. In addition, you’ll want to inform the applicant about any pet deposits or extra rental fees you require for those with pets.


4. How Many People Will Occupy the Rental?

large-family-of-tenantsYour rental property is only so big. And while there are no specific occupancy rules in California, there are two approaches you can take:

  1. Follow the general “two plus one” formula and allow up to three people to occupy your rental per bedroom
  2. Set your own occupancy rules to prevent overcrowding

Just make sure you enlist the help of an experienced Antioch property management company if you’re unsure about setting your own occupancy limits. The last thing you want to do is accidentally discriminate against a potential tenant and find yourself in court.

To further prevent accidental discrimination, make sure you don’t ask about the following:

  • Disabilities: you cannot ask people about their disabilities or whether they need service animals.
  • Children: though you can ask about the total number of occupants, you cannot ask how many children an applicant has. This can be construed as discrimination if you deny the application.
  • Religion: you cannot discriminate based on things like religious affiliation. That’s why it’s best to avoid this question altogether.
  • Sexual Orientation or Marital Status: it’s against the law to discriminate against applicants based on their sexual orientation or marital/familial status.


5. Do You Smoke?

Much like the pet policy you may or may not have in place, it’s important to be upfront about your smoking policy too. There’s no better way to inform applicants about your smoking policy than to ask them if they smoke or not. This way, depending on their answer, you can frame how you present your policy to them. It also gives you some time to decide whether to move forward with the application.


6. What is Your Monthly Income?

If you want to find quality tenants for your rental property, you’ll need to place those that generate enough monthly income to easily pay the rent. And while you’ll verify your applicant’s employment and income during the tenant screening process, it doesn’t hurt to ask before you get to that point.

According to the federal government, someone paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing is considered to be cost burdened. Because of this, you should require your tenant to make at least 3x the monthly rent rate in income each month. This will increase your chances of getting paid each month.


7. Have You Ever Been Evicted Before?

A study conducted by TransUnion found that prior evictions of renters often lead to future evictions. Therefore, if you find out before running a background check that a potential tenant has been evicted in the past, it’s best to proceed with caution. Of course, bad things happen to great people and you might want to make a judgment call. This is especially true if your applicant’s finances are in good standing now.

However, if you follow the rule that those with prior evictions are not welcome in your property, it’s a good idea to find out sooner than later so you can move on to the next applicant.


8. Have you Ever Been Convicted of a Crime?

Again, a background check will reveal this to you as the application process continues. But if you’re looking to save time, and want to find quality tenants for your property, ask applicants about their criminal history yourself.

Here are some of the types of crimes to look out for:

  • Burglary
  • Arson
  • Illegal manufacturing or distribution of illegal substances
  • Drunk driving
  • Assault and battery

Keep in mind, to prevent violating Fair Housing Laws you have to ask all applicants about their criminal records or none at all.


9. Would You Be Able to Pay a Security Deposit?


As a landlord, it’s important to collect a security deposit to protect yourself. In fact, a security deposit can help offset the costs of property damage or non-payment of rent.

If you want to find quality tenants, make sure to ask whether they can cover a security deposit before they move in. This may be in addition to first and last month’s rent, if that’s how you run your rental property business.

If you find out your applicant doesn’t have the funds to cover a security deposit, which can be upwards of three times the rent rate, you should look to place someone else.


Final Thoughts

If you want to find quality tenants for your Antioch, CA rental property, you’re going to have to do some research of your own. This will not only save yourself time in the long run, it will help you pick the perfect tenant for your property. So, help yourself out during the initial phase of tenant screening and have this list of questions on hand so you know what to ask those that show interest in your property.

And don’t forget to check out Blue Line Property Management to help you manage your rental. As a full-service property management company, we can help with things like rent collection, property inspections, and maintenance and repairs. And if you need help finding quality tenants, we can market your property and conduct tenant screening for you, so you can sit back and enjoy your rental without all the hard work. So, find out more about our property management approach and see how we can help today.