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Questions to ask potential tenants questions before signing a lease in Miami

As a landlord, you must carefully consider to who you lease your property. This ensures that you provide your tenants with a safe and comfortable living space and helps protect your interests as a property owner. One of the best ways to do this is to ask potential tenants questions before leasing to them. This can help you better understand who they are and whether they are likely to be a good fit for your property.



Although many landlords hire a Miami real estate agent or property management company to handle the listing, asking potential tenants questions is essential because it can help landlords understand who they may sign a lease agreement with and help find the right tenant. Asking the right questions can also help avoid potential problems down the road.

In this article:

Why is it important to interview and ask potential renters questions during the screening process?


Asking the right questions can also support landlords avoid any potential problems by getting to know their potential new tenants. Asking questions can also help landlords determine if the tenant is truthful regarding the documents they've submitted before they sign a legally binding lease agreement.


What are some questions to ask potential tenants?

The first thing you would do when listing your property for rent is to review prospective tenants' offers or applications. Suppose you've hired a real estate agent. In that case, they should ask the tenant or agent to provide proof of income, credit score/report, photo ID, and sometimes an application. You will then look over this information, and you may answer some questions based on each applicant.

Top 10 questions to ask when screening tenants

Here's a list of general questions to ask during the tenant screening process that landlords should ask.

  • Why are you moving?

  • What is your salary/income?

  • What is your rental history?

  • Have you ever been evicted or broken your lease

  • Do you have any pets?

  • Do you smoke?

  • What is your credit score?

  • What is the reason for your low credit score?

  • How many people will be living on the property?


These are just some examples, but landlords should tailor the questions to their needs.


Ask about the tenant's income and employment

The tenant should have submitted information regarding their income and employment when submitting an offer or application. Verify what the tenant entered on their submission. In addition, you should ask more questions to get a better idea of the tenant's income.


Ask questions such as:

  1. Do you have any upcoming changes to your employment or income that we should be aware of, such as a planned job change or promotion?

  2. Do you have any additional sources of income, such as a second job or investment income?

  3. Have you had any employment gaps or income level changes in the recent past? If so, can you explain the reasons for those changes?

  4. Can you provide proof of your current employment and income, such as a recent pay stub or offer letter?

Ask for other necessary verification, such as a bank statement or credit report. Some tenants may provide fake bank statements or paystubs to help compare bank statements with pay stubs. And call their employer to verify employment.


Rental History

You also want to find out more about the tenant's rental history. The prospective renter should have provided landlord references. If not, ask them for contact information for their previous landlords. After interviewing the tenant, it's good practice to contact them to confirm the applicant's information.


Ask questions such as:

  1. How long have they been renting?

  2. Where have they lived before?

  3. Did you leave any of your previous rental properties on good terms with your landlord?

  4. Can you provide any references from your previous landlords or property managers?

  5. What were your likes and dislikes of your past landlord?

  6. Did you have a written lease agreement at each of your previous rental properties?

  7. Did you have any issues or conflicts with your previous landlords or neighbors? If so, can you explain what happened and how it was resolved?

  8. Did you leave any of your previous rental properties on good terms with your landlord?


Suppose their previous landlord says the tenant was challenging to work with or had to claim the security deposit. In that case, this might indicate potential problems in the future, and you may need to vet the tenant more or wait for another potential renter.


Credit History

Ask the potential tenant about their credit history. Credit history can indicate their ability to pay their bills on time and manage their finances responsibly. You can check their credit score through a credit reporting agency. However, it is still a good idea to ask about any potential red flags or issues that may come up.


Ask questions such as:

  1. Do you have any current credit card balances or outstanding loans?

  2. Have you ever declared bankruptcy or had any other financial judgments against you?

  3. Have you ever been late on any credit card or loan payments?

  4. Do you have any unpaid collections or charge-offs on your credit report?

Although landlords want a tenant with excellent credit, a great score does not automatically make them great.


Criminal History

Another essential question to ask potential tenants is whether they have any criminal history. While a criminal record does not necessarily disqualify someone from renting your property, it is essential to know about any potential issues that may arise.


Tenants have some protections regarding criminal history. So it's best to give tenants a written request to have permission to run their background or ask the tenant to provide their own. After receiving the report, you may make an informed decision. If you run the report yourself, you may be required to give the tenant a copy and tell them why you denied their application.


Move-In Date

When discussing the potential lease agreement with the tenant, it is essential to ask about their preferred move-in date. This will help ensure that the tenant can move into the property conveniently and allow the landlord to plan and prepare for the tenant's arrival. With condos in Miami, the tenant must be approved by the association before they may move in. So it's vital to establish a realistic move-in date.


Ask questions such as:

  1. Are you aware of the condo association approval process and timing?

  2. What is your current living situation?

  3. Do you have to give notice to your current landlord before moving out?

  4. Do you have any specific preferences regarding the move-in date?



Plans for the future

Finally, be sure to ask the prospective tenant about their plans for the future. Asking may help you to understand if the potential renter may renew the lease after the lease expires.

Ask questions such as:

  1. Do you have any plans to relocate or move in the near future?

  2. Are you planning to purchase a home or move into a different rental property?

  3. Do you have any plans to change jobs or switch careers?

Answer questions

Finally, ask the tenant if they have any questions about the rental. This will allow them to ask questions, voice any concerns or issues, and help establish open and transparent communication.


What should landlords avoid when asking prospective tenants questions?

Landlords should always keep questions professional, ethical and legal. Avoid questions that can be seen as discriminatory, such as asking about a person's race or religion. Landlords should also stay away from asking questions that are not relevant to the rental process, such as personal opinions on politics.

On the federal level, landlords may not discriminate based on the following:

  • Race

  • Color

  • Religion

  • Sex

  • National Origin

  • Disability

  • Familial Status (presence of minor children in a household, pregnant women, or anyone securing legal custody of a child)


In Miami, the following is also protected:

  • Pregnancy

  • Age

  • Actual or perceived victim of domestic violence

  • Source of income

  • Physical or mental impairment, including people with HIV/AIDs


Landlords may ask questions regarding a criminal record but may not decline a tenant solely on arrest records and should get more information before making a decision. Landlords should get familiar with Federal Housing Laws and local Miami Housing Laws.


Examples of questions not to ask:

  • What is your race?

  • Who did you vote for?

  • Do you have kids?

  • Are you Christian?


Conclusion

Overall, it is important to carefully screen potential tenants before signing a lease in Miami. Asking the right questions can help you to find reliable and responsible renters and avoid potential headaches and legal issues in the future.



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