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The Top 10 Questions Every Landlord Should Ask Prospective Tenants

Apr 14, 2023

Finding the right tenant is crucial to maintaining a successful rental property as a landlord. Prospective tenants should be carefully screened to ensure that they are a good fit for the property and will respect the lease terms. Here are the top 10 questions that every landlord in Illinois should ask prospective tenants during the screening process.

1. Can you provide proof of income?

One of the most important things to consider when selecting a tenant is their ability to pay rent on time. By asking for proof of income, you can ensure that the tenant will have the financial means to meet their obligations.

2. Have you ever been evicted?

Knowing if a tenant has been evicted in the past can give you a sense of their rental history and help you avoid potential issues.

3. Will you consent to a background check?

A thorough background check can provide valuable information about a prospective tenant's criminal history and credit score.

4. Do you have any pets?

If you allow pets in your rental property, it's essential to know what kind of animals the tenant has and whether they meet any breed or size restrictions.

5. How many people will be living in the property?

Overcrowding can lead to wear and tear on the property and create conflicts with neighbors. Make sure that the tenant is planning on living with a reasonable number of occupants.

6. Are you a smoker?

If smoking is not allowed on the property, it's essential to know whether the tenant is a smoker before signing a lease.

7. What is your rental history?

Understanding a prospective tenant's rental history can give you a sense of how they have treated previous properties and landlords.

8. Do you have any questions about the property or the lease?

Asking if the tenant has any questions shows that you are interested in their concerns and can help avoid misunderstandings later on.

9. How long do you plan on living in the property?

Knowing how long a tenant plans to stay can help you plan for turnover and ensure that the property is in good condition when they move out.

10. Have you ever been involved in a dispute with a landlord?

If a tenant has had conflicts with previous landlords, it's important to understand the nature of those disputes and how they were resolved.

By asking these ten questions during the screening process, landlords in Illinois can improve their property management and tenant-landlord relations. While there are no guarantees when it comes to finding the perfect tenant, careful screening can help minimize the risks of renting out a property.

What Questions Shouldn't We Ask on a Rental Application?

While there are important questions that landlords should ask prospective tenants during the screening process, it's equally important to avoid asking questions that could be construed as discriminatory. Landlords should be aware of fair housing laws and avoid asking questions that relate to a tenant's race, ethnicity, religion, disability, familial status, or other protected characteristics.

Here are some examples of questions that should be avoided on a rental application:

  • What is your race/ethnicity?
  • What is your religion?
  • Do you have any disabilities?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What is your sexual orientation?

Asking these types of questions could be seen as discriminatory and could result in legal action against the landlord. Instead, landlords should ask questions relating to a tenant's ability to pay rent, rental history, and references. By asking appropriate questions and avoiding discriminatory ones, landlords can maintain strong tenant-landlord relations and avoid legal issues.

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