How to make sure you get the right tenant
All landlords want to know that when they let out their property it’s going to be safe and handed back to them in a similar state. While most tenants are NOT a problem, there’s always that difficult few who can really make your life difficult. However, the good news is that there are a range of steps you can take when you let your property in order to limit the risk of problems arising in the future. Although many landlords think first impressions are enough, unfortunately sometimes it’s impossible to tell – and some tenants are very good at putting on an act.
Here are a few key steps you can take to minimise the risk of problem tenants:
Every prospective tenant should be required to supply a rental application which MUST include details of their previous landlord – and hopefully another (sometimes their current landlord may feel obliged to give them a good reference just to get rid of them!) As well as this, get details of their employer and contact them to ensure the tenant works there and the income stated is accurate. Also, make sure you look at their bank statements and check that the net income going in matches the income they say they have. It’s also advisable to get a copy of their passport or driving license, National Insurance number (so you can trace them if they ‘disappear’) and check their credit history.
Visit them in their current home
This is a useful tip – as it will give you great insight into how they care for their property. It’s best to make sure that it’s not dirty or damaged and the only true way to do this is to pay them a visit. It may sound a little extreme, but it’s a good thing to bear in mind.
One thing that will protect you is having a firm tenancy agreement in place. Make sure all tenants sign this before you hand over keys. Start with a short-term agreement – say three-six months. This is because if you give a 12 month agreement you will have to follow a more formal route if you wish to get rid of the tenant (s). If you start with a short contract, you can then extend it if you feel they’re looking after your property and are reliable.
It’s important to perform regular inspections and also to give the tenant sufficient notice. If you do this regularly, you’ll have a good idea as to how their treating the property. If you decide to use an agent, check the inspection reports for suspicious behaviour so you can pick up on any problems early.
Make sure that you keep detailed accounts of all legal or financial transactions with your tenants as it’s vital to have a paper trail of maintenance issues and requests you may have made. A strong record can help you if you have to take things to court later.
Last but not least….
It may sound obvious but developing good relations with tenants from the start makes things much easier if any issues arise further down the line. Respond quickly to their requests and listen to their complaints. Sometimes circumstances may change for them that they can’t predict, so you want to ensure they see you as approachable so they keep you regularly informed.
Remember to take your time when choosing a tenant and not to panic. It can be a good idea to outsource the process to an agency if you want a hassle-free life –look at all the options available and decide for yourself.
Image credit: Lucy Wilson (freedigitalphotos.net)