What you can’t ask when Interviewing Tenants
A lot of new landlords don’t understand that when you are interviewing tenants, there are a lot of boundaries that you can’t step over. Yet many landlords are doing this time and time again. Not only are they potentially turning off new tenants, but they are opening themselves up to potential legal issues.
Here is a general list of questions or topics you can not ask of your prospective tenants during the interview process:
If they have been arrested:
This one’s actually a bit of a tricky one that I really need to clarify. You can ask a tenant if they have ever been convicted ot a crime. However you are not able to ask a tenant if they have been arrested. Due to “presumed innocent until proven guilty”, it’s illegal to for you to deny housing to someone who has been arrested, but have never been a convicted felon.
Their sexual orientation or preference:
You can not ask a tenant anything about their sexual preferences because if you refuse them, it can be seen as discrimination.
On top of that, you also cannot ask a tenant about their living situation. For example you cannot ask a tenant if they are married, or if they are single, or if they have children.
It may seem natural to ask tenants about disabilities; if your property isn’t suitable for people in wheelchairs for example, you may think to mention that or ask them if they have any sort of handicap. This is also not permitted however.
You can not ask an applicant about their age. Even if you “prefer mature tenants” to partying teenagers, you are not allowed to bring anything like that up during the interview process.
Race, Nationality and Religion:
You are not allowed to ask a tenant anything related to their race, national origin or their religion. You can’t even hint about it(ie: “There’s a great Christian Church just down the road).
Remember – no matter your personal opinion on any of the above issues or any prejudices you may have – you need to treat all tenants equally. Otherwise if you end up rejecting them, you are opening yourself up for potential legal issues.