The Inside Edge
There is often a lot said about rogue landlords and how to avoid renting from them, but what about the reverse side of the coin – the rogue tenant? If you are a landlord and have had bad experiences with non-paying tenants or you are just starting out in the renting game you might want to read some of our tips below on how to choose your tenants wisely. Of course, there are the usual reference checks and so on, and many might see some of the checks as bureaucracy gone mad, but they protect your interests, your property and ensure you make the right decision.
Don’t be Complacent
It’s really important that you treat property rental the same as any other business. Your tenants are paying customers and therefore it’s in your best interest to make sure they are able to pay the right amounts on time and adhere to the rules you set out. Naturally you also need to step up to your side of the bargain and provide good landlord services
Produce a Comprehensive List
Before taking on any new tenant you could create a rundown of the information you need from tenants and ask them to provide everything before you go ahead with the tenancy agreement. This will at least test whether they are serious about renting from you and simply not wasting your time.
Obtain Some ID
Make sure your tenants are indeed who they say they are. Ask for photographic ID such as a passport or a visa if they are from outside the EU. Take photocopies and keep on file.
Obtain an Employer’s Reference
If your tenant is employed and not on DSS or a student, you can ask them to provide a reference from their employer. This will prove they are in employment and should be on headed paper and written by a senior member of staff. Some tenants embellish or tell lies about their employment so checking out the phone number and website on the reference will go a little way to proving it is genuine.
A Reference from a Previous Landlord
This is a great reference to get. Ask for a letter that states when the last tenancy agreement started and ended, whether the rent was paid on time, and whether there were any problems with conduct during the tenancy period. Again, a quick phone call to said landlord might be a good idea to prove the letter is genuine. Also, bear in mind that the landlord may have written a glowing reference in order to get shot of their tenants. If you have any doubt in your mind you can also ask for a reference from the landlord before last as they will have nothing to gain from fudging the facts.
Of course, as a landlord your business is collecting the rent and you’ll want that rent to be paid on time and in full. Requesting bank statements will prove your prospective tenant is able to meet the payments, is paid on a regular basis and that they are who they say they are. You can also check wages are being paid in by their employer. Payslips are also a good way of checking income. The bank statement should also state the prospective tenant’s current address.
You’ll need to obtain your tenant’s permission to carry out a credit check and it will cost you in the region of £10, but credit checks do hold a lot of water when it comes to vetting tenants.
Letting Agent Checks
If you are using a letting agent, they may want to use another company to carry out the checks. The majority of agents act with great care and ensure that all relevant checks have been carried out before agreement is made on tenancy.
In many cases you have to rely on your natural instincts. If something is amiss and you can’t quite put your finger on it there is usually a good reason. You have every right to refuse a tenancy if you have a feeling it will be a bad decision.
When Things Go Wrong
Inevitably, if you rent out a lot of properties there are going to be occasions where you experience a bad tenant in one shape or form. For example, some tenants might not be able to afford their rental payments. In some cases it is just best to let them go early and look forward to vetting and greeting a new tenant.