If you’re a landlord then you’ll know just how much of a difference there is between a good tenant and a bad tenant. One will pay rent on time, look after your property and leave without a fuss. The other may damage your investment, force you to evict them through the courts and even threaten your financial stability. So, given how crucial it is to make sure that your tenants are on the right side of this divide, how do you find the good ones?
Cast your net wide
If you use a wide range of channels to attract tenants to your property you’re more likely to have a bigger pool of people to choose from. Letting agents can be useful if you find one that understands your needs, and there are online agent like upad. There are also plenty of ways to advertise online and via sites such as Gumtree. Alternatively, you can use the ‘matching’ technology of websites like Ideal Flatmate, which put people together based on a list of preferences.
Meet your potential tenants
Face-to-face meetings will give you an opportunity to get a sense of who the person is. You’ll also be able to ask key questions about former landlords or financial stability and see instantly how they respond.
Check financial stability
A credit check is an essential part of the process – a bad credit history could include multiple defaults that indicate this person isn’t going to stick to financial commitments. If a tenant fails a credit check then, before rejecting them, look into why – it’s not always a red flag like a CCJ. It could be something as simple as no credit history because they’ve lived abroad. Plus, you can always ask for a guarantor if you’re not 100% sure.
Be proactive when it comes to references
A former landlord can tell you a lot about a potential tenant. Questions to ask include whether rent was paid on time and whether the property was well looked after. It’s always preferable to carry out referencing by phone as you can learn much more this way. If you’re using an agent for this part of the process be aware that they will probably only request a basic email reference.
Take a close look at rental history
Many landlords won’t actively criticise a former tenant but that doesn’t mean there weren’t issues. What is often more telling is to look at the tenant’s rental history. Have they got long periods of time with the same landlord or are they moving around every six months or so for no apparent reason?
Opt for honesty when it comes to what you’re offering
Don’t use marketing language that over-hypes the property on offer. If it’s a small second bedroom then use clear and honest language to describe it. You’re much more likely to find a tenant who is a good fit if you’re up front about the property on offer. This will also lay the foundations for a more positive, open relationship with them.
Be on top of your own obligations
Great tenants want to rent from great landlords. They expect landlords to:
Carry out an inventory on check-in and check-out
Protect their deposit
Provide an EPC and annual gas safety check certificate
Use an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement
Keep the property in good condition
Respond swiftly to requests for maintenance or repair
Offer a fair deal on rent
Carry out essential checks e.g. Right to Rent
Be on top of recent legislation, such as the ban on tenant fees that comes into force for tenancies after 1st June 2019
Google potential tenants
The volume of information that is available about people online today is quite staggering. As a landlord you’ll have the full names of prospective tenants so you’ll be able to Google them to see if there is any information that is relevant to your renting relationship. That could be any troubles they’ve had with landlords in the past or social media accounts that show a lifestyle you might not be happy with in a tenant. Just be wary of making decisions in this way that could open you up to accusations of discrimination (e.g. refusing someone because of their race).
Don’t rush in to the rental relationship
If you choose the wrong tenant then you could waste months of your life dealing with the issues they create and/or trying to get rid of them. So, give yourself the time to make the decision properly. Gather information, think it through and then go with your gut instinct.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read more about Amanda Gillam