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How to find the right tenants for your rental property

By Maurice Shasha  //  Thu 5th March 2020
While finding your dream tenant can't be guaranteed, there are simple steps you can take, and checks you can make, to ensure you know more about the person you’re letting to.
How to find the right tenants for your rental property
Renting out a property for the first time, and finding good tenants, can feel like a leap in the dark. What if your new tenant causes damage, stops paying their rent or becomes a problem neighbour for people living close-by?

While finding your dream tenant can't be guaranteed, there are simple steps you can take, and checks you can make, to ensure you know more about the person you’re letting to.

From our experience of helping first-time landlords through this tricky process, we’ve pulled together 10 steps to help you choose the best tenant for your rental property.

1: Follow the law

While it’s natural to be picky about who you rent to, remember that you must comply with the law on discrimination when choosing the best tenant for your home. It is unlawful to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of certain protected characteristics when letting property. These include age, race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. Read more on the website.

2: Understand the rules about the right to rent

It is your responsibility in law to establish that your tenant possesses the right to rent in England. Tenants must provide you with original identity documents, such as passports or official identity cards and you are obliged to check these in their presence and take copies. If you fail to do this, you could face a fine of £3,000. More information can be found on the website.

3: Choose the right tenant for your property

Research demand for your type of property in the area and target your marketing to specific types of tenant, whether that’s families, young professionals or retired people.

Whichever demographic you’re targeting, look for people in stable employment with an income, which will allow them to live comfortably after meeting the cost of the rent. If your prospective tenant is self-employed, look for evidence of a long-term sustainable income from their bank statements or tax returns.

Corporate lets are a safe option if your property is appropriate. They provide an additional level of security because you will be dealing with your tenant’s employer and can hold them accountable.

4: Take up references

Always obtain references for your tenants, including from previous landlords. If your applicant hasn’t rented a home before, seek references from their employer or a college lecturer. Contact all referees to ensure that they are genuine.

5: Perform checks

It is crucial to examine applications carefully and not take anything at face value. Carrying out background checks isn’t just for your peace of mind. Some insurance policies won’t be valid if you haven’t been thorough in this area.

These background checks are essential:

   · Verify income

Ask for proof of income and copies of bank statements. While this might feel intrusive, it is vital to understanding whether the applicant has the means to pay their rent each month.

   · Run a credit check

It is also worth investing in credit checks to be doubly sure of their past payment history. Credit referencing agencies such as Experian can do this for a fee.

   · Snoop around their online profiles

To find out more about your prospective tenants, have a look at their social media profiles. Searching up their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts will give you more information about the person and their employment history.

6: Always meet your applicants

It’s a good idea to meet your prospective tenants in person, especially any who you are strongly considering. It is hard to form an opinion about someone if you've only emailed or spoken by phone.

Before meeting your applicants, think about the questions you need to ask them and establish which documents you will be requesting from them.

An application form, which everyone must complete, can be useful for gathering the right information and helping you make comparisons between applicants.

7: Take a deposit

A deposit acts as a safety net in case the tenant causes damage. There's no set amount, but the maximum you can ask for is five weeks’ rent upfront. You are legally required to keep this money in a government-backed deposit protection scheme.

8: Make an inventory

The most common type of dispute between landlord and tenant involves claims for damage. Drawing up a full inventory can help you avoid this issue – make sure you take photos or videos of your property itself and any items included. Your tenants should sign the inventory to confirm that everything it lists is both present and in the stated condition.

9: Trust your instincts

We’re not saying go on your instincts alone - you need to back up any gut feeling you have about a tenant with proper checks and references. However, remember that you are entering into what could be a long-term professional relationship with the tenant. If something doesn’t feel right about them, there may be a reason why.

10: Consider using an agency

If you’re pushed for time, or feel unsure about handling the process yourself, think about using a letting agent. A local agent will be experienced at marketing your property effectively and will have the expertise and legal knowledge to check applicants thoroughly.

Letting agents can arrange credit and reference check, organise the tenancy agreement and collecting the deposit. They can also collect rent and look after the management of the property if you wish.

If you’re a landlord with property to rent in central London, we’d be happy to advise you about the best way to find great tenants. Contact us today to find out more.

You may also be interested in reading  How to Find Good Tenants for Your Rental House

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