How do landlords choose tenants

What to look for when choosing your tenant

In the event of loss of rent, the return is no longer correct, and the entire cost calculation begins to falter. And if - as is usually the case - you still have to pay off a loan, you cannot do this with the rent, but have to fall back on your other income. In other words, a nightmare.

But the good news is: You can protect yourself. After all, choosing the right tenant is essential for an unproblematic tenancy.

The optimal marketing of your property

Tenant selection begins with the question of how and where you want to market your rental property. When you hire a broker, your tenant usually pays the broker's commission. If he is ready, this speaks in favor of the solvency of your potential tenant.

As a landlord, you should always get a written confirmation from your broker that his activity is free of charge for you, despite the "ordering principle". Another advantage of engaging a broker is the preselection. A good broker can exclude certain, less solvent groups of interested parties in advance.

If you do without a broker, you can of course market your apartment yourself with newspaper advertisements, box number advertisements, notices and, above all, via the Internet.

You will find the right tenant in conversation

Meet with your prospective tenant and take the time to talk. Direct the conversation to the professional and personal history of the tenant. Try to find out how often he has changed jobs and how many apartments he has lived in so far. A separation from a partner that has just been completed may also be of interest to you.

It is therefore imperative that you ask during the conversation:

  • the credit rating
  • the employer
  • the last job change
  • a regular income
  • a payroll
  • the last tax return
  • the last tax assessment
  • the submission of an affidavit
  • bankruptcy proceedings
  • Wage garnishments
  • other enforcement acts

Be particularly careful with this information from your prospective tenant:

  • The tenant states that a third party will pay the rent.
  • The interested party does not want the apartment for themselves, but for third parties.
  • The interested party reports of legal disputes with the previous landlord.
  • The potential tenant does not specify how many people want to move in.

You are not allowed to ask these questions

You can ask any questions that are directly related to the tenancy. However, this does not apply to questions relating to the privacy of your future tenant. You must not ask questions about pregnancy, sexual orientation, infectious diseases, race or ethnic origin, age, religion or gender. The same applies to questions about membership in a tenants' association.

Ask the tenant to provide information about himself

It is easiest for you if your tenant gives a self-assessment. However, he is not obliged to do so. If he doesn't provide any information, you shouldn't rent the apartment to him either. The tenant self-assessment is ultimately a questionnaire that you have your prospective tenant fill out.

If you ask your prospective tenant questions that are inadmissible, they do not have to answer them truthfully. However, if he is untruthful when it comes to admissible questions, you can later contest or terminate the tenancy if necessary.

You can inquire about the following points in the tenant self-assessment:

  • Creditworthiness and income
  • the number of people moving in
  • the address of the previous landlord
  • the number of pets
  • whether a musical instrument is being played

Schufa information is worthwhile

The protection association for general credit protection (Schufa) belongs to the banking industry and collects information about credit transactions from consumers. Information on the solvency and reliability of tenants can also be obtained from Schufa.

As a landlord, you are not allowed to obtain Schufa information about your tenant yourself (BGH, judgment of 03.07.84, Az. VI ZR 42/83). However, you can and should ask your prospective tenant for a Schufa self-assessment. The easiest way to do this is via the Internet. At, your prospective tenants can request the relevant data about themselves for you free of charge.

The rental debt exemption certificate

You can also have a rental debt exemption certificate presented to you. In it, a previous landlord certifies to your prospective tenant that there are no rental debts.

A landlord is not obliged to issue such a certificate (BGH, judgment of 30.09.09, Az. VIII ZR 238/08). In practice, however, most landlords are willing to do this. If he refuses, it can indicate problems in the tenancy. The best thing to do is to contact the former landlord and explain the reasons.

Since prospective tenants did not shy away from falsifying a rental debt exemption certificate, the BGH decided: In such a case, the landlord may contest the rental contract for fraudulent misrepresentation (Section 123 BGB) or terminate it without notice (judgment of April 9, 2014, Az. VIII ZR 107/13).

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