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8 Common Questions Asked By Tenants

A potential tenant can ask a lot of questions to make negotiations about their stay in your property. Sometimes it’s out of curiosity and sometimes it’s backed with deceptive intent. What are these kinds of questions? What do they possibly mean and how do you respond?

1.   “What if I don’t meet all of your criteria?”

RED FLAG ALERT. It’s probably because the tenant won't or may not be able to meet your criteria. You can simply answer this question by saying “Sorry, what do you mean?”. Ask the tenant why he or she can’t meet your criteria. Depending on their answer, you can reach a compromise. For example, if they answer “It's because I don’t have a rental history and it’s my first time to rent a property,” then you may opt for additional securities or a co-signer.

2. “I’m in a hurry. Can I pay the rent and move in today?”

Image credit: Know Your Meme

This tenant is probably on the run from something or someone and most likely it’s the law or their previous landlord. “Sorry, I’m going to need more information from you.” would be the best answer.

3. “I can pay 6 months upfront. Can I move in this weekend?”

Hurrying to move in is one suspicious act and so is discouraging a landlord with money to avoid the proper tenant screening process. Under normal circumstances, there’s no reason to hurry when moving in and there’s no reason to prevent a landlord from avoiding tenant screening. Your answer? “Sorry Ma’am/Sir, but I’m really going to need more information from you.”

4. “Can I take possession in two months?”

You'll need to assess your local rental market on this one. It’s common sense for a landlord to have an occupied property to maximize profit. But if your calculations suggest that it’s also equally viable to hold a unit for a tenant, then why not? If in doubt, you can answer “I'll have to weigh my options on this one.”

5. “Can I pay my deposit in installments?”

If a tenant who diverts you with money to avoid screening is a red flag, so is the one who can’t pay in full. This just shows how likely they are to cause you payment problems in the future. An appropriate response would be “Sorry, it’s in the lease that you should pay everything in full.”

6. “Can my due date be the 15th?”

The first day of the month is the universal standard of the rental industry. If they ask to pay mid-month, this just shows that they live paycheck to paycheck without savings and could be bad with money. Hence, they will somehow have payment problems in the future. Just tell them, “Sorry, it’s also in the lease that you should pay your rent on the first day of each month.”

7. “Are you the owner?”

Tenants will ask this out of curiosity or challenge of authority. Curiosity to know if you’re the person in charge of their requests or a challenge of authority to see if you’re complacent once they start breaking a few rules. You can choose to answer either “Yes, I’m the owner and I make the rules as well as enforce them,” or “I’m just the property manager but I strictly enforce the rules as the owner instructs,” depending on your situation.

8. “My boyfriend/mom/sister wants to live with me, but I don’t want them on the lease. Is that OK?”

This would lead to a problem for a landlord. If a tenant moves in but brings along somebody else and asks to not include them in the lease, that exempted person cannot be held liable for damages or can legally squat once the leased tenant moves out without notice. “Individuals 18-years-old and above living in the home must sign the application and be on the lease. Sorry, but no exemptions,” is the perfect answer to this.

For every suspicious question, always apologize first then explain the situation. Being strict is good but be polite at the same time. You don’t want a problem tenant suing you for discrimination. 

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