If you’re thinking of renting out a property for the first time, you might be wondering how to avoid the tenant from hell. What if your new tenant causes damage, stops paying their rent or becomes ‘that’ neighbour for people living close-by?
Renting out your property to strangers will always be a leap in the dark - and finding your dream tenant can't be guaranteed. But there are simple steps you can take, and checks you can make, to ensure you know more about the person you’re letting to.
Read our 11 top tips for fantastic tenants and where to find them:
1. Maximise your choices
The more interest you generate in the property, the greater your chance of finding the perfect tenant. So it’s important to market your home as extensively as your budget permits.
Rather than waiting for prospective tenants to contact you, you could be proactive. Check property-wanted ads, gumtree or Nextdoor.co.uk and approach people directly.
If you are looking for a letting agent to find your tenants, choose wisely. Do your research into how quickly, on average, they take to let a place.
2. Target the right people
Research demand for your type of property in the area and target your marketing to specific types of tenant. You may even choose to invest in buy-to-let properties with appeal to certain demographics, whether that’s families, young professionals or even retired people - they tend to make good tenants who will take care of your property.
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.
3. But don’t discriminate
Be aware, though, that you must comply with the law on discrimination when choosing your tenants. 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 gov.uk website
4. Be prepared
Before meeting your applicants, think about the questions you wish to ask them and establish which documents you will be requesting from them. It’s easy to forget something important, especially when you warm to someone and are tempted to trust your instincts.
Using an application form, which everyone must complete, could be useful. The form will ensure that you gather the right information and help you make comparisons between applicants as well as being a fair way to operate.
5. 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.
6. Make rigorous checks
It is crucial to examine applications carefully and not take anything at face value. Background checks are essential. Ask for proof of income and copies of bank statements. While this might feel intrusive, it will give you a better picture of their circumstances for greater peace of mind.
7. Take up references
Always seek 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. Check all references to ensure that they are genuine.
8. Check their feeds
It’s also worth delving into your prospective tenants’ social media
profiles. Looking at their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts will give you more information about the person and their employment history.
9. Credit and ID checks
Once you have identified the most promising applicants, it is worth investing in credit checks. Identity checks are also crucial, as it is your responsibility in law to establish that your tenant possesses the right to rent in the UK. Tenants must provide you with original identity documents, and you are obliged to check these in their presence and take copies. More information can be found on the gov.uk
10. Use a letting agent
If you’re pushed for time, or feel unsure about handling the process yourself, using the services of a letting agent will save you a lot of stress. A letting agent will have detailed knowledge of the local market and may already have the perfect tenant registered with them. They will be able to market your property effectively and will have the expertise and legal knowledge to check applicants thoroughly.
Letting agents can find tenants for your rental property, arranging the credit check, organising the tenancy agreements and collecting the tenancy deposit. They can also collect the monthly rent. Many will offer property management services during the tenancy too.
11. Take out landlord insurance
No matter how careful you are, it is still possible to encounter problems with your tenant. You can protect your interests by investing in landlord insurance. As with letting agents, taking out landlord insurance will increase your overheads but it will mitigate the impact and expense of a bad tenant.
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