When a potential tenant is looking for a new apartment in North Seattle, there are questions that can and cannot be asked. Knowing what questions are okay and which ones are off limits is helpful to both the apartment manager and the potential tenant.
A property manager at City North Seattle Apartments will have some questions that will give him/her some insight into what the tenant is looking for and what kind of tenant he/she will be.
- “How long do you think you will live here?” Most apartment managers would rather have tenants that plan to stay a while. A year is usually the minimum desired.
- “When would you like to move in?” Property managers like to keep their apartment complexes full, even preferring to have a waiting list. But, they don’t want someone who got evicted from somewhere else. Likewise, a date too far out might seem odd or unreasonable to consider.
- “Is there any reason that you could be late paying rent?” A tenant who pays on time every month is valued.
- “Is your total move-in amount available now?” This is a question meant to assess your financial responsibility.
- “How many evictions have been filed on you?” A good question because a simple question of IF you have even been evicted is less specific. This is to protect the apartment manager from renting an apartment to someone who is a bad tenant, doesn’t pay or is a bad neighbor to other tenants.
- “Do you have any felonies?” If so…” How many?” This info is available on the background check that will be done, but honesty is always the best policy. An honest answer speaks well of integrity, even with a criminal history.
- “What pets do you have?” An apartment manager wants to know what your home-dynamic looks like in order to put you into the right apartment, top floor or ground level, near green space or an apartment with a sunny view.
- “Do you own a vehicle that will need parking?” Usually, in apartment living, parking is limited. Covered parking on-site or nearby is often desired, but having more than one vehicle may limit a tenant’s options for covered parking or even enough available spaces. Note that there may be a limit.
- “Are there any smokers that will be living in this apartment?” Smoking in some apartment complexes is completely forbidden or designated to particular smoking areas on the property. This is due to the cost involved in cleaning and prepping for the next tenant. The smells and yellowed walls cost to refurbish for the next renter.
- “Why should we rent this apartment to you?” This question gives the potential tenant the opportunity to explain why he/she would be a good tenant.
The Federal Fair Housing Act and local fair housing authorities have a list of questions that are off limits. An apartment manager cannot ask any questions that could seem discriminatory toward any race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or familial status. Local rules regarding marital status and sexual orientation also exist. A perspective tenant can be asked about prior crime convictions but cannot ask if an individual has ever been arrested. There is a difference.
It is best for a property manager to avoid any questions that are outside the norm. In fact, it is best to ask all applicants the same questions. As far as procedures go, same rule. Credit checks must be done on all applicants, not just people under the age of 30, or only on people from middle-eastern descent. Consistency is key.
Some questions an apartment manager can never ask you are:
- “Are you married?”
- “Are you gay?”
- “How old are you?”
- “What church do you go to?”
- “Have you ever been arrested?”
- “What country are you from?”
Before going to look at an apartment, educate yourself ahead of time. Find out what can be asked of you…and what cannot. Be sure you know your rights in renting. Also, write down your questions. With a good exchange between renter and manager, you can ensure that you can rent the apartment that is right for you.