5 Crazy Important Questions To Ask BEFORE Showing Your Rental Property

You’re so excited, it’s time, the home you have poured your blood sweat and tears over is finally ready to go on the market for rent! You may have worked weeks months or even years to get to this point. It’s going to be a pretty proud moment when you get to show your rental property to the people who are going to fall in love with it and call it home.

You market the property in the ways The Rental Property Mama taught you, tons of calls pour in, and now you are booking showings like crazy. 2 pm on your first day of showings, you get to the home early to open all the blinds and turn on the lights, so the house is flooded with welcoming light. You may even set out some cookies, so it smells extra inviting! 2 pm rolls by 2:10, 2:15, then you call your appointment and learn they chose another home and are not coming. Okay, no worries, you have a 2:30 appointment. I’m sure they will take it! 2:30 prospect arrives and love the home and thinks their Pit Bull will enjoy the backyard also. Not only did they have a Pit Bull, but they took forever trying to convince you that “their pit bull was well trained and he was a good dog. They can prove it from their successful dog breeding business they run from home.” Now it is 3:10, and you will be at the back of carline to pick up your kids who will be panicked that you are late.

Hi, I’m Becca “The Rental Property Mama” this is where I show you how the entire above heartache can be avoided by adding one simple step…


What made you interested in this home? 

LISTEN CAREFULLY to their answer. Often tenants will give away a ton of information that could be missed on an application. Like “my landlord sucks, I put in a work order and it takes all the way to the next day to get stuff fixed!”. Does this sound like a reasonable tenant? In cases like this, I listen to their complaint and tell them clearly how I would have responded in the same way so if they are looking for a change my property is not what they are looking for, (trip saved).

What is your ideal move date? 

Our resident selection criteria (learn what that is here LINK) only allows us to show the home to potential tenants who will move within two weeks of the available date. A vacancy is expensive. Unless it is a particularly hard home to rent or a hard time of the year to rent, we will not hold a home vacant for more than two weeks. If a caller’s move date is beyond the two-week window I do not show them the home, (trip saved).

Do you have any pets? 

Each of our homes has a predetermined pet policy that we list in all the marketing. However, I have come to realize that prospective tenants don’t read marketing, so I need to ask. If they say they have a pit but will re-home them I let the caller know we do regular inspections on the property so if the dog’s home does not work out they will not be able to come back to this property. The caller usually does not schedule after I share the information about inspections, (trip saved). ***Notice I don’t ask, “do you have any animals.” This is because I don’t want to exclude anyone with a service animal and break the ADA or HUD laws on service animals / emotional support animals. Here is a hot tip for you… Service Animals are NOT pets, they are medical devices (http://rebeccap5.sg-host.com/7-super-simple-tips-to-clarify-service-animals-for-landlords/), so this is why I ask about pets and not cats/dogs.

Do the adults in the home make a combined VERIFIABLE income of X dollars a month? 

I want to make sure the tenant can pay rent and still have enough money for food and other expenses. Three times the rent is what we require, but I spell out the math for them. If the rent is $1000/month I ask “do you have a verifiable, combined, gross income of $3000/month). What does verifiable mean? Paystubs and bank statements if they have a job or a long term guaranteed income like social security or a pension. If they are self-employed, they must show last year’s completed tax return that verifies the ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME. That is the income after all business expenses. I don’t care if their business made 3 million dollars last year if it could have lost 4 million.

Cash may be king when buying homes, but paystubs win the day when renting!

Countless tenants have applied for my properties who earn just above what the monthly rent is. Many people today don’t understand budgeting and have no idea how much it costs them to live. If they have to choose between paying rent or eating, which one do you think they will choose? Help them do the math to determine if they make enough and can verify your required income. If they can’t, trip saved!

Have you ever been filed against for eviction? 

In a landlord’s eyes, eviction and murder are the same level of offense! If a tenant has had an eviction filed against them that means they did not pay rent, received a notice to vacate then still stayed in the home forcing the owner to file for eviction. That’s a hard pass for me, if they did it one time they will likely do it again, trip saved!

Any custom questions for this property.

 What I mean by that is some properties are unique. I manage one car garage townhomes with no overnight street parking. If they have more than two vehicles, they won’t be approved because there is no place for them to park the third vehicle. Some properties we do not accept more than three unrelated adults due to zoning; another has an HOA application that takes 30 days to get an approval, so if they need to know sooner, they would not be a qualified candidate. If any limiting factors exist on a property, I want to review those details with a caller before scheduling a showing and save a trip.

Make sure not to ask any questions that would violate fair housing like “how many kids do you have” or “why do you need the service dog”. Stick to the questions above and read more about fair housing here httpss://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/fair_housing_act_overview.

What if someone does not answer the questions above in a way that lines up with your resident selection criteria? 

Here is exactly what I say, “I’m sorry our policy is to only show the home to potential tenants who meet our resident selection criteria.” If the tenant pushes harder, “You have established that you don’t meet that criteria in one or more areas so our policy does not allow me to show the home. If you feel you would indeed meet the criteria, then I welcome you to apply, I will review your application against the criteria. I would be happy to show you the home if you qualify.” Want to learn more about my Resident Selection Criteria? Click here http://rebeccap5.sg-host.com/the-number.?

Bottom Line…. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME ON UNQUALIFIED TENANTS! Save the precious hours before the kids get out of school or during nap time for well-qualified tenants who confirm appointments 2 hours in advance. Managing rental properties can give you the financial freedom AND the time freedom us Mama’s want, but it’s up to you to make sure unqualified tenants don’t suck that valuable time away. Your time matters and it’s OK to ask well thought out questions and say “no” to callers who will not meet your criteria.