Screening Questions

I am a new landlord and would like to know what type of questions I should ask a tenants

  • personal references
  • previous landlord

any help would be appreciated

google “rental application”


It is really pointless to ask prospective tenants any questions. The bad ones (the majority) are chronic liars and you won’t get any accurate information from them. Instead of asking a lot of questions, here is what I do:

  1. First of all - LOOK AT THEM! If they look like a hoodlum, they probably are. Lots of tattoos, baggy pants hanging over their butt, multitudes of body piercings, etc can be warning signs.

  2. Observe them as they drive up. You can tell a person’s life story from looking at their car. Are they wearing a seat belt? Are they smoking? Are there empty beer cans visible in the car? Is the car a mess? (Your apartment will soon resemble the car). Does the car look like it cost less than $200? If so, they probably won’t be paying the rent - they are nearly broke. Use common sense.

  3. Look at their driver’s license!!! Are they who they say they are? Don’t have a driver’s license - they’re probably a drunk with a suspended license! Check that the driver’s license number and social security number matches the number they put on their application.

  4. Run a criminal background and credit check. We don’t accept anyone who has been evicted in the past 5 years; anyone who has had their utilities shut off within the past 2 years; anyone who has been the plaintiff in more than one civil lawsuit; anyone who has a drug arrest within the past 5 years; anyone with more than 2 misdemeanors in the past 5 years, etc.

Call their employer and verify employement. How long have they worked there? Longer is better.

Even with all this screening, I’ve got 2 evictions this month!

Good Luck,


thanks for the help!

property manager,
which site do you use to run a criminal background check ?

run their credit, check job history, and call previous landlords to verify their situation.


Criminal background information is public record. If the applicant is a local person, I look up their criminal record on the local common pleas court and municipal court websites. This is free and is the most up to date information available. For criminal checks on applicants that are from out of the area and for all credit checks, I use the National Association of Independent Landlords. Their website is

Good Luck,