Homyplace’s Guide to Tenant Screening

Homyplace's Guide to Tenant Screening

by Amanda | 12th September 2019 | Rental Property Tips

In order to find a responsible, reliable tenant you need to go through the process of tenant screening. Tenant screening, also known as background checking is a process used by residential landlords and property managers to evaluate tenants. The purpose of this process is to assess the likelihood of a tenant if he or she will fulfill the terms of the tenancy or lease agreement. 


Advantages of a Tenant Screening 

Many landlords prefer to choose their tenants through interviews. Choosing tenants based on your personal feelings may not be the best option. The tenants you chose may be bad at maintaining your property, pay rent late, cause problems with neighbours and drain your time and energy. These circumstances can be avoided if you screen tenants before you hand them the lease agreement. The benefits of undergoing tenant screening include: 

  1. Rule out tenants with poor rental and criminal history
  2. Understand the tenant’s financial situation
  3. Prevent future evictions 
  4. Learn about tenant’s payment history 
  5. Protect yourself from liability 
  6. Reduce tenant turnover   

How Tenant Screening Works 

Zira, operation manager from Homyplace,  stated that there are 7 steps in conducting a tenant screening:

You have to understand the basics of tenant screening before they fill out an application. List down the criterias you want from a tenant. A good tenant has to meet these criterias:

  • Stable employment 
  • Makes sufficient income to pay the rent 
  • Clean criminal record 
  • Fits your property and lifestyle requirements (smoking, pets etc) 
  • Pay the rent on time 

According to Zira, interview questions can be altered based on the tenant’s identity. If the tenant is a student, the agent would contact the parents, guardian or university to verify the tenant’s background. You should consider these questions when you interview a student:

  1. What school are you studying right now? 
  2. What course are you taking?
  3. What is your estimated budget for a unit? 
  4. What are your parents/guardian’s occupation?
  5. Do you mind living with strangers? 


Local working class and foreign tenants share generally similar interview questions. For foreign tenants, you can ask questions regarding where they’re from and their purposes of working in Malaysia. 


The questions to ask local and foreign tenants include:

  1. What kind of work do you do? 
  2. What is a rough estimate of your income?
  3. How many people would be living with you? 
  4. How many parking spaces would you require when you live here? 
  5. Do you currently rent? If so, where? 
  6. How long have you lived in your current home?


Other questions to consider asking for potential tenants include:

  1. Have you ever had an eviction?
  2. Do you have pets?
  3. Do you smoke?
  4. Are you willing to sign a year lease? 
  5. Why do you want to move away from your current lot?
  6. Do you have preferences from previous rentals? 
  7. Which date would you prefer to move in?
  8. Could anything interrupt your ability to pay your rent? 

Before you dive into the interview, you need to require more information from the potential tenants. First, it is compulsory for every landlord ask a copy of the identification card or passport for every tenant. For additional verifications, students are required to send in copies of their student cards whereas foreign tenants would required to print out a copy of their visa. 

Knowing about tenant’s income allows you determine whether or not the applicant can afford the rent. You can check with the current employer to verify the applicant’s employment status, job position and salary. 

You should research tenant’s histories with the previous landlords to find out if they paid their rent on time and whether any disputes or problems with the landlords and neighbours while there.

There are many ways to conduct an interview. You can do it the old fashion way, face-to-face interview. The good thing about face-to-face interview is that you are able to take a good look at the tenant and you get to know him or her better. Another method is phone interview. For Homyplace, Whatsapp is the most reliable app to conduct interview as it is fast, convenient and you can also do video calls with the tenants if either party could not make it to the meeting spot.   

After all the researching and interviewing, it’s up to you to make the decision. Does the applicant met all of your criteria? Does he or she have a stable work history and solid income? Is he or she clean of criminal background? Does the applicant have favourable histories with the previous landlords?

Although tenant screening may take a lot of procedures, but the outcome of the findings allow you determine whether or not the applicants will likely be good tenants. Meanwhile, you can check out Homyplace for more guides or subscribe to be a Homy Owner.      

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Social media planner by day, illustrator by night, Amanda is everybody’s friendly little oddball who enjoys eating  good food and watching horror movies. Her interest in culture and horror have inspired her to create dark-fantasy, oriental themed illustrations…cute doodles are included. She is also a blogger with a mission in mind: to inspire others through creativity.

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