Tip 4: The Telephone Interview

You will find that many people will want to arrange a viewing via email or text. This is fine you might think but you could be wasting an awful lot of time if you arrange viewings in this way.

Instead ALWAYS insist on a chat on the phone before you go to the trouble of meeting them at your property. A quick chat on the phone can give you lots of valuable information about the person you cannot get from a conversation via email.

If you’re a little shy about talking to strangers on the phone, write yourself a little script, or a set of questions you’d like to ask and leave space to note down their answers to each question. The more you do the easier it will be and soon you’ll be far more relaxed about the whole thing.

So, what should you be asking? Well, firstly you need to check your property has what the potential tenant is looking for so ask them:

  • Where exactly do they want to live? Sometimes people have a very clear desire for a particular area and you’ll struggle to get them to change their minds on this. If your house isn’t near their preferred area then say so and suggest they look elsewhere. Better to find this out now than when you’ve travelled to your property only for the potential tenant to say, “Oh I love it but I really need to be at the other side of the city.” If they are new to the area I often suggest they take a look at Google Maps and find out if the house is in a good location for them or not. They’ll usually call back if it is. You can always call them back.
  • How much do they want to pay? If your room or property is way over their budget (assuming you’ve done your homework and know your price is right – see Tip #1) then make sure they know how much yours is and don’t bother trying to arrange a viewing ‘just in case’ they think your place is so fabulous they’ll pay the extra. They very rarely do and you’ll just be wasting your time.

For single occupancy properties you also need to find out:

  • What type of property do they want – detached, terraced etc.?
  • How large does it need to be?
  • How many bedrooms?
  • Does it need to have a garden?
  • Should it have a garage?
  • Should there be parking?
  • Do they prefer furnished or unfurnished (remember what we discussed about being flexible with regard to furniture in Tip #1)?

For people looking for a room in a shared house ask them:

  • What size room do they need?
  • Does it need to have an en-suite bathroom?
  • Does the room need to be furnished?
  • Do they require storage for a bike or a car or unused furniture etc.?
  • Do they require parking?
  • Do they know the area and therefore already know that your house is a good location for them?
  • Do they require services such as Broadband?
  • Do they need all bills to be paid?

Keep a note of their answers and then at the end of the conversation point out all the aspects of your property that fits what they’re looking for. Don’t lie! You’ll soon get found out and you’ll just waste a lot of time. Ask if they’d like to pop along and take a look.

All of those questions could be asked using email. However insist on a chat on the phone and you’ll find out a whole lot more.

During a conversation on the phone you can find out a little about their character by listening to what they say and how they say it. It’s not rocket science but so many landlords don’t bother with this and end up only finding out the person is a bit of an idiot after they’ve driven all the way to the property for a viewing. I prefer to find this out BEFORE I’ve wasted too much time on them.

So during the conversation think to yourself:

  • Could you get on with them?
  • Would they get on with the neighbours?
  • Do they seem friendly and intelligent?
  • If you are multi-letting will your other tenants get on with them?

The last point is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of multi-letting so don’t take any risks. Put the wrong person into a multi-let property and you risk losing all your other tenants. And it’s not just whether the person seems an idiot or not. They need to be on the same wavelength as your other tenants too so education, sex, age and background do make a big difference to whether or not they’ll all get along. If they don’t get on you could have all sorts of horrendous problems to deal with.

I’ve got so good at this that we’ve had many marriages over the years between tenants that prior to moving into one of our houses had never met each other before! That’s great!! Mind you I’ve never been invited to any of the weddings………..

If you like the person but don’t believe they’d fit into the property you currently have available say so and either give them the details of another landlord you know or put them on a waiting list. More on that on my CD (see below).

If you just don’t like them then you could point them in the direction of your website if you have one and suggest they take a look through it to check you have what they want and like to do business in a way they are happy with. Or you could suggest they take a look on Google Maps to double check the location is OK.

What I tend to do then is save their number as ‘Don’t Answer’ then whenever they ring me it just comes up on my phone as ‘Don’t Answer’ so I don’t answer!

Only arrange a viewing if the telephone interview went well and they seem like a happy, friendly and intelligent individual. They are the type of people I want in my houses and so that’s the only type of person I accept so unless they seem that way on the phone I won’t waste my time arranging a viewing.

Time is precious so don’t waste your precious time on the wrong people!

Next week we will go into this further and discuss the Face to Face meeting.

Until next week.


P.S. If you’d like to order my CD ‘How To Find, Attract and Retain The Best Tenants‘ containing the entire system I’ve developed to make sure you only ever get the best tenants, they stay a long time and recommend you to other potential tenants, you can do so here: http://www.tenantscreeningtips.com/cd. For a limited time it’s only £27.97 with FREE delivery!

The CD includes all 14 top tips which together make the perfect system for finding, attracting and retaining only the best tenants for your properties, including:

Professional versus Student Tenants – Both have their advantages. I’ll help you decide which way to go

Online Advertising – Where to advertise to make sure you don’t get left with empty properties for long

Pricing – How to get your pricing right so you get the tenants you want. Also what you should include in the rent and what you should charge for

The Advert – What to say in your advertising so you get loads of enquiries from the types of tenant you want

References and Credit Checks – Not as simple as it seems! Rely solely on great references and you’re asking for trouble!

Telephone Interviewing – Save yourself hours of time with this simple tip

Face To Face Meetings – Why these are so important and what to look for when you first meet a potential tenant

Saying ‘NO’ After a Viewing – How to say ‘No’ to someone you don’t like after a viewing

Dealing With ‘No Shows’ – What you should do if someone fails to turn up to a viewing

Rent and Deposit Negotiations – How to confidently deal with potential tenants who want to negotiate the price

Securing ‘Gem’ Tenants – How to attract and keep tenants that suit your property perfectly

Recommendations – How to encourage tenants to recommend you

Recommend Other Landlords – Why this is a very good idea!

Waiting Lists – Why you should keep them

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