Whooohoooo! You have gotten your rental property ready, successfully shown the unit, and now someone wants to apply. Great job Mama, you have overcome a ton of obstacles! Now take a deep breath, and SLOW DOWN. This next step is the most critical in managing your rental properties. You don’t want to rush it.

Hi, I’m Becca, I make managing rental properties simple and landlord life fun. Terrible tenants take all the fun out of owning and managing your rental properties. So let’s take a look at the top 12 questions that should be on your application to make sure you lease to great tenants and avoid the bad ones.


1) Who are you – It sounds pretty basic, but this is where you get the applicant’s name, birthdate, current address, and driver’s license. You need the birthdate to verify criminal records if they pop up, and you need the DL to see if the person in the photo is who actually saw the unit. This step right here has saved me from renting to people who claim to be someone they are not, and were trying to commit identity fraud. Because I asked for ID and viewed the photo, I could see the person on the ID was not the person who viewed the home. I have also seen bad fake ID’s, and this allowed me to decline those applications. Bad tenant avoided!

2) What is your VERIFIABLE combined income before taxes – make sure to double authenticate this through two separate sources such as bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, job offer letter, etc. This is also where you ask for employers contact information and permission to contact the employer. Pay stubs can be faked but bank statements are harder to fake. If you combine two proofs of income you will weed out most scammers. Bad tenant avoided!

3) Do you have any pets – review their answer against your pet policy. If you don’t allow pets or have pet restrictions make sure to ask on the application about their pets. You may have stated your policy in your marketing and at showings but have them affirm on the application they meet your pet criteria. This way you have it in writing with their signature so they cannot claim to have not known the policy. Bad tenant and possibly bad pet avoided!

4) Current and past rental situations – get all the facts on where they live, how much they pay in rent, how to contact the landlord, how many late payments they have made in the last year, and why they are moving. How someone has behaved in the past is the best indicator of how they will behave in the future. If the rental history shows evictions or collections from housing, we decline the application. Bad tenant avoided!

5) Are there any other people who will be living in the home and how old are they – Anyone over 18 you should have apply EVEN if they don’t make any income. If you don’t require this, they could try and slip in a felon by calling her a “stay at home mom.” You also will need to list all minors on the lease, so you know who will be living in the home. If they refuse to have everyone over 18 years of age apply, declined. Bad tenant avoided!

6) Social Security Number – you need this to pull a credit report. I am not worried about a specific score because medical debt and student loans can bring down the score but are not indicators of how they will pay the rent. However, if the applicant owes to apartment communities or has several delinquent credit card accounts that does show a lack of ability or priority to pay, declined. Bad tenant avoided!

7) Emergency Contacts – it is possible that during the tenancy, you will have to contact the tenant’s emergency person. This is the best time to get that information. This does not help you avoid a bad tenant but could make your life easier in the future which is awesome.

8) Have you ever had an eviction filed against you – note I did not say, “have you ever been evicted.” I want them to tell me if an eviction has ever filed against them. Of course, I will verify this information, but this is their chance to come clean and tell me if there were extenuating circumstances. I have approved tenant’s who had an eviction filed against them far in the past but had a verifiable good reason and they had paid off the debt. If they have not paid off the debt or it was in the last 10 years, declined. Bad tenant avoided!

9) Have you ever broken a rental agreement – this is not an automatic denial, but again I want them to explain AND give me the landlord’s contact information. If I can’t veri

10) Have you ever refused to pay rent – I had an applicant answer this by saying, “Yes, I’m not paying rent now because of the life-threatening mold!” I had her show me photos, and the mold was actually shower mildew. Denied!

11) Have you ever been convicted of a crime – not an automatic denial, so this gives them a chance to explain the situation and for you to review the application as a whole. (One of my best tenants had been convicted of illegally taking minors across state lines, scary! He showed evidence that they were his kids whom he now has custody of, and it was all part of an ugly divorce.)

12) Do you smoke any substance inside of your home – you can’t ban cannabis use in many states, but you can ban SMOKING it or any other substance inside the home.

There you have it! Ask these 12 questions on a written or online application, and you will have the information you need to start your fact-checking. See the next blog post “Why Screening Reports are not enough to identify a BAD TENANT” to learn how to verify all the information you collected in your application! You can also see exactly what I am looking for in a quality tenant by reading http://rebeccap5.sg-host.com/the-number-one-key-to-weed-out-terrible-tenants/ Screening out the nightmare tenants and having a stress free landlord life starts right here, and you just took the first step.