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Questions to Ask When Screening Tenants

You can go about screening tenants however you like. Conversationalists might trust their gut after a good talk with potential tenants, while data-driven landlords will want to see evidence to back up a tenant’s responses. Ultimately though, no one individual is able to accurately assess whether a tenant is suitable for your property. But every question you ask and verify will help to reduce risk.

At Naborly, we are experts in assessing the rental success of a rental applicant. We bring together data points provided by the tenant and by Equifax to offer landlords a report that provides insights into the applicant.

But even with all of that information, we still want landlords to take the extra step to verify their tenants' NaborlyReport. Here’s how to do just that.

What questions are landlords allowed to ask?

It should come as no surprise that landlords need to ask their tenants questions prior to entering a rental agreement. That said, many landlords forget to ask essential questions, or are unsure whether they can ask them.

Landlords should ask tenants for:

  • Their employment and income
  • Copies of paystubs
  • References
  • Why they are moving
  • Whether they are able to comply with a no smoking policy.
  • Whether they have been evicted in the past
  • Whether they have broken a rental agreement in the past
  • How many people will stay in the rental
  • Whether they have pets

This is just a preliminary list of questions that should get the ball rolling. Tenants should be able to provide answers and supporting evidence for most of these questions, so it is a great starting point for landlords screening tenants.

What questions can a landlord not ask?

Renter rights vary from location to location, so it is worth checking your local laws. That said, it is safe to assume that anything related to the tenant’s appearance or identity is off the table.

Landlords cannot ask questions about a tenant’s:

  • Race, colour or ethnic background
  • Religious beliefs or practices
  • Ancestry, including people of Aboriginal descent
  • Place of origin
  • Citizenship, including refugee status
  • Sex (including pregnancy and gender identity)
  • Family status
  • Marital status, including people with a same-sex partner
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age, including people who are 16 or 17 years old and no longer living with their parents
  • Receipt of public assistance.

Why and how do landlords verify income?

In the past, landlords would need to discuss this with the tenant, then assess whether the tenant’s stated income is appropriate for rental property in the area. Verifying this would be challenging since tenants are reluctant to share personal documents with landlords directly.

Now, Naborly will ask this question and request documentation for verification. We still ask that landlords reach out to the tenant’s employer to verify their current employment status.

Person reviewing tenant applications

How we simplify tenant screening.

As you begin running down the rabbit hole of trying to understand precisely who is trying to rent your property, you may find it challenging to find answers to the most pressing questions.

It’s critical for landlords to be confident that a prospective tenant will be able to pay rent. Beyond that, most landlords will also want the security of knowing their tenant is the right fit for their space—is it within a reasonable rent to income ratio for the area? Have they caused property damage in the past? Are they a considerate tenant?

While we always recommend that landlords perform their due diligence by contacting past landlords and verifying their tenant’s application answers, it is not always possible to find answers to these pressing questions.

That’s where Naborly comes in.

How to protect your property.

Landlords and property managers alike ought to be performing their due diligence whenever they are considering a new tenant, and yet problems still occur. The blame is not on the landlord’s judgement in these cases but on the lack of verifiable information they receive.

Few landlords are able to accurately assess whether a tenant is a good fit for their property, and even fewer are able to see that prospective tenant’s history. Naborly is bringing together those metrics and making them easily accessible for landlords. Together, we know more.


Two tenants shaking hands with new landlord after screening

Naborly helps landlords find answers.

Naborly enables landlords and property managers to make better decisions, faster

Conventionally, it is difficult for landlords to find a tenant applicant’s credit report. So the first way that Naborly assists landlords is by providing access to that data, securely.

We provide credit reports and other checks.

As a partner of Equifax, Naborly’s tenant screening includes an up-to-date credit report of the tenants applying for a landlord's property. We are also able to conduct a Sex Offender's Registry Check for our customers in the United States.

We assess how suitable the property is for the applicant.

Bringing together the credit report from Equifax and information provided by the applicant in the rental application, our tenant screening will provide a Naborly Tenant Insights that reflects our assessment of how suitable your property is for the tenant applying for it.

Once a landlord has verified whether or not a tenant will be able to pay rent, it is a great follow up to know how well the property meets the tenant’s needs.

Naborly is building a future where good tenants can easily find a residence with good landlords. 

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