As a landlord, your tenants are the second most crucial thing to you behind having a well maintained, safe property. A good tenant can make all the difference to your property value and any expenses as if they maintain the property as though it’s their own, you shouldn’t be leaving yourself out of pocket with repairs. Whereas a bad tenant can cause no end of problems, including decreasing property value, instigating conflict with neighbours, and leaving you fitting repair bills long afterward.
Here, we give our expert tips so that you can keep a lookout for the best tenants for your properties.
#1. Meet Them!
This might seem obvious but in such a constantly connected world, sometimes if you are busy it can be more convenient to agree to a let, having only spoken through email, phone or video chat. Instead like in any relationship, you’ll only truly get an understanding of whether you’ll get along with someone if you meet first, so allocate a time to meet with your prospective tenants!
Again, like meeting anyone for the first time, make sure to ask questions. Be careful not to make it an interview, but do inquire as to why they’re moving, how long they’re planning on staying, where they work or what their professions are, how long they’ve been in their jobs and even what hobbies or interests they have so you can build a fuller picture of who they are and what they’re like. If you own a house in a quiet neighborhood, a tenant that tells you they are a practicing DJ with an interest in making their own techno music may not be the right fit for you!
#2. Run decisive credit checks.
Even after meeting a prospective tenant that you think could be a fit, it’s best to run credit checks. A credit check can reveal a number of things the tenant may have chosen not to disclose, such as a bad credit history, a lack of employment for a significant amount of time, or overall questionable or controversial life choices that do not align with yours, other tenants or prospective neighbours values.
A credit check isn’t a significant cost and as the tenant usually pays, it is beneficial to run one as it is a place of protection and safety for you. If a tenant refuses to pay, or seems nervous about the idea this can also be a big initial indicator of them hiding something potentially problematic.
However, if a prospective tenant you felt you got on well with and seems ok otherwise does fail a credit check, it is worth investigating why. Sometimes there can be minor issues flagged such as not a long enough credit history, a period of living abroad, or earning less than the national rent average. If one of these is the case, and there are no court or criminal records to their name, you could move past the check.
#3. Get references…
If a tenant comes with a list of previous landlords, they are providing you with a wealth of information. Call the most recent landlord yourself and inquire as to what the tenant’s really like, if they paid the rent on time or as close to time as possible, and most importantly, if they took care of the landlord’s property. Make sure to corroborate the tenants story too: Double check with the landlord as to how long the tenant has lived there and ask if they know why they’re leaving. This should ensure you are speaking to their former landlord, as opposed to just a friend!
#4. Or Use Google
However, if your tenant cannot provide a reference that is from a previous landlord, possibly because they are first-time movers having just moved from their parents house, consider consulting Google! Nowadays mostly everyone has either a social media profile, Pinterest or LinkedIn account or sometimes even a blog. Any of the types of posts or interests on these profiles should give you an idea of someone’s hobbies, interests or personality that a family reference may not.
#5. Best Present Yourself
A landlord and tenant relationship is a two way street. Not only should your tenants be right for you, but you and your property should be right for them. Always be open, honest and friendly and most importantly, transparent when it comes to the property.
For example, if the property does have some problems that aren’t immediately obvious, such as a lack of central heating or the area it is in gets noisy at night due to nightclubs and bars closing times, make sure they’re aware of and comfortable with this.
Additionally, good tenants will have an idea of what they want or expect from a property and will have done their research. Make sure you know your property and are ready to answer any questions they may have planned. Know everything, from bin collection dates, to energy providers, and any council tax bands.
Overall your tenants should best represent yourself as a landlord, and your property. It’s worth making the time to really get to know any prospective tenants as this is the key ingredient to making you both happy in the longrun.