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Questions to Trap a Bad Renter

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Your best strategy to find a good renter is to ask a lot of questions. I am not a very good question asker. My wife is the master. She drives me up the wall by asking question after question that do not seem to have a purpose. Then occasionally I see the purpose, something will slip out and we will realize that the candidate is lying. If you are not a natural "question asker," make notes and ask from your notes. You must see yourself as a detective digging for the truth. Ask the following questions and others you come up with.

Why are you renting?

This is a good opening question to initiate a conversation. This may be none of your business as a prospective landlord, but bad renters don't like to be disagreeable at this point in the game, so they will try to answer. It gives you a foundation to evaluate later questions on current housing and job situations. Good renters may answer or they may find a tactful way to dodge the question. Desperate people will tell you what they think you want to hear. You DO NOT want desperate renters.

How long to you intend to stay?

You will be signing a lease for some fixed time, but it is nice to get them on-record with their future plans. The more information you get on the table, the more likely a liar is to contradict himself.

If you currently live nearby, can I take a ride over there and have quick look?

You will likely never do this, but it is nice to see how they reply. As they have not anticipated you inspecting their current living conditions, they will likely not be prepared. If they have nothing to hide, they may readily agree. If they keep their current place is bad shape, they will not want you to see it.

Where do you plan to move when you leave here?

It is nice renting to people who have a plan for the future. I LOVE a long term renter, but I do NOT like being stuck with bad renters who have no options in life, nowhere to go and no money or drive to get there. I find the professional liars to be particularly good at answering this question. They always have grandiose schemes in the works and can go on for hours about what they plan to accomplish.

Do you have family in this area?

It is good to initiate a conversation about family. Many scammers are estranged from family as they practiced their art first on family before moving on to other victims. Talk about their relationships with parents, siblings, ex-spouses, kids, etc. You can tackle it from a lot of angles related to the property, such as will they be staying with you at times, or will you be out of town for extended peroids of time visiting them, etc.

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