How to screen your potential tenants


Updated on Jan 29 • 5 minute read

Screening your potential tenants before they move into your property can be crucial for the success of their stay, as well as for your own peace of mind and security. In fact, getting to know the person who is going to inhabit your property should be one of your main concerns as a landlord/lady. Of course you want the best tenants for your accommodation, and you’d hate to rent out your property to occupants who bring you nothing but trouble!

But is it possible to evaluate your future tenants online without first having to meet them? Seems absurd, right?

On HousingAnywhere we have a few tools that could really do the trick. This article will guide you through the challenging process of getting to know your tenants, deciding whether they’re the right match for you and your property, and it will give you more insight on the questions every landlord should ask their tenants before they even move in.

What type of landlord are you?

Depending on what type of landlord you are, you might require to screen your tenants more or less thoroughly. There’s no universal screening that will apply to everyone. For instance, are you managing dozens or hundreds of properties and you don’t really have the time to get to know your tenants that well? Then it might be enough for you to just verify their identity, employment status, age or gender.

Or maybe you are going to share your apartment with your future tenants? Then it might be a good idea to ask them more personal questions to get a real feeling of what they’re like. You don’t want to share your house with a person who is rude, untidy or has a crazy lifestyle that doesn’t really match yours!

However, whether you’re an experienced property manager or you’re just looking for someone to sublet your room for a few months, we’re sure that your main concerns will be finding a trustworthy, reliable tenant who:

  • Will always pay the rent on time, and
  • Won’t wreck your accommodation.

Screening tenants without in-person viewings

Working with in-person viewings can be very time consuming, and we’re sure you’d rather save time by simply accepting bookings directly from your smartphone or tablet. Moreover, keep in mind that tenants who book online and in advance on housing platforms such as HousingAnywhere are more reliable, serious and committed. This is because they are willing to pay online the first month’s rent, plus a service fee equal to approximately 25% of the first month’s rent. No fooling around!

Here’s what you can do to make the best use of our platform and never miss a beat!

What type of tenant will best suit your property?

When creating your listing, you are given multiple options to choose from. In the ‘Preferred tenant’ section, for example, you can select the preferred gender of your tenants, their minimum or maximum age, if couples are allowed in your property, and whether you’d rather rent out to students or working professionals. You’re allowed to have preferences! It’s your property, so don’t be afraid to be honest regarding your desires.

Who makes the rules?

Guess what: you do. Are tenants allowed to smoke inside your property, or outside? Are pets allowed? Are they free to play musical instruments, or is it discussable? After selecting the right options in the ‘Rules’ section, your preferences will be visible to all of our users under your listing’s description:

If you have any other preference or requirement, feel free to specify it in your listing’s description. Pictures, descriptions, videos and floor plans of your properties should be appealing and accurate. This way potential tenants won't ask you tons of questions and won't need to view your property in person.

However, keep in mind that these filters will not stop tenants from contacting you and asking questions about the property’s rules, but it will surely reduce the enquiries from people who aren’t the right match for you!

Check out their profile

We encourage our users to upload recent and representative profile pictures for extra validity. On our users’ profiles you can check out their profile photo, their age, gender and university, as well as their occupation and the languages they speak. This will make your communication much smoother!

Moreover, we display user badges on the profiles of the candidates from our partner universities. The “Verified Student” badge indicates that these users have been previously verified by their university and are therefore more trustworthy. Perhaps your ideal tenant is one of them!

Finally, tenants also have a dedicated space where they can tell you more about themselves: their hobbies, favourite activities, or anything else they’d like to share about themselves!

Direct messaging and important documents

However, if you’re not satisfied with the information they have provided in their description (no mention of their employment, profile photo left blank, etc.), you’re more than welcome to ask them more specific questions before you finalise the booking!

You should avail yourself of our direct messaging system to get to know your potential tenants as much as you can. Ask all the questions you might have, get all the information you need before you send an invitation to book or accept their booking request. For example, if they’re students, you could ask if they have a guarantor who is willing to pay for their rent, or if they’re young working professionals you might need to have a look at their contract or payslips.

On our messaging system you can exchange documents before even accepting the booking request. For example, you might need your tenants’ IDs before finalising the housing contract. You and the users can just click on the clip icon 'Upload File': this way you can send the contract or receive their documents, enrolment letters from university, payslips or anything else you might require.

Here’s an example of documents you might need before the booking is made:

  • A picture/copy of their ID or passport.
  • Their VISA (if they’re not from a country within the EU).
  • Proof of income (work/internship contract or payslips).
  • Enrollment letter from university.
  • A statement from their parents/guarantors saying that they will be dealing with the rent and all the expenses, their ID and work contract/last three payslips.

Questions to ask your potential tenants

Asking a million questions all at once can be a bit intense, for both you and your future tenant. However, before you rent out your property, you should make sure that you have all the information you need, including financial, employment and personal information. Here follows a list of some questions you could start off with:

  • What is your monthly income?
  • Where are you going to work/study?
  • Do you play any musical instruments?
  • Have you lived away from home before?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Are you a smoker?
  • Will you be able to pay the monthly rent, the deposit and the platform’s fee?
  • Does your income cover the rent plus normal living expenses?
  • Are you willing to sign a X months lease agreement?
  • Do you have any friends or relatives who will frequently spend the night in your room/apartment?
  • Is there anything else I should know about you or your lifestyle?

As you get to know your future tenants online, try to also pay attention to their manners: are they polite and friendly? Or are they a bit too rude for your taste? You might think this is irrelevant, but first impressions really matter!

After you’ve screened your tenants’ profiles and had a conversation with them, there’s only one thing left to do: use your instincts and trust your guts. Try to be patient and understanding when talking to them: remember that they might be very young, and this might be their first experience away from home. You don’t want to be the grumpy landlord they’ll remember for the rest of their lives!

And remember: the nicest and fairest you are to them, the better your chances of attracting polite, well-behaved and trustworthy tenants who won’t tear your place down!

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