Trade Secrets on How to Choose the Perfect Tenant for Your Let

How to Choose the Perfect Tenant
3 January 2018

If you’re a seasoned landlord, you’ll know well the trouble that can come from selecting the wrong tenant. There are few things worse than having to chase bad tenants for rent, or having to recoup funds to cover the damaged property.

There’s a whole range of things that could go wrong if you don’t choose the right tenant, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure you take the necessary steps to get it right first time. While it’s impossible to ever know for sure whether a tenant is likely to cause you hassle in the long term, there are some important tips that will help you make an informed decision.

Here’s some we’ve brought together at online letting agents LetBritain.

What should you ask your prospective tenant?

You’ll already know how important it is to arrange a personal, one-on-one viewing with your tenant. When you come to make a decision about your tenant preference, it will largely be based on your gut instincts. And while this is helpful, you shouldn’t rely on that alone as an indicator of how reliable a potential tenant will be. Asking certain important questions will help identify any potential red flags.

  • Start by asking what the reason for their move is. This can seemingly be a perfectly innocent conversation starter but should help you identify if there’s any potential for trouble. If they’re moving because of eviction, disagreements with the landlord, or anything similar, there’s a good chance those problems could continue into your tenancy.
  • Look out for reasons such as they needed to move for work or they wanted more space as potential signs of a good tenant.
  • Remember also to ask when the tenant wants to move in. This needs to coincide with your plans to rent the property obviously, but understanding their grasp on timescale and notice periods with their current landlord can give a good indicator of how seriously they take their contractual obligations.

Make sure to run a credit check

Though this is by no means a foolproof way of establishing someone’s financial reliability, it’s definitely worth running a credit check to see if there are any obvious red flags in the prospective tenant’s financial history.

The obvious benefit to this is that you can see if somebody’s filed for bankruptcy, insolvency, or been taken to court for any financial arrears.

However, a credit check will not give you somebody’s history of rent payment, and will unlikely involve much information on other bill payments. It should therefore not be taken as exclusive evidence of a tenant’s reliability either way.

Remember you need to get a tenant’s permission before running a credit check. Often, their response to you asking for permission can be more telling a sign of their character than the credit check itself.

Check references

You’re also perfectly within your rights to request former landlord references from potential tenants. Much like tenants, landlords aren’t perfect, and asking for the opinion of one can expose you to bias either way – so make sure to try and corroborate the opinions of multiple former landlords if possible.

As well as asking the former landlord whether they gave sufficient notice that they were leaving, and paid their rent on time, if possible try and ask the landlord the same questions you asked the tenant at the viewing. Identifying any inconsistencies in accounts about why a tenant moved, and how they behaved during the tenancy can be a good way of catching out tenants who aren’t being totally truthful.

Filter through serious candidates with online lettings agents

Of course, one of the best ways to identify quality candidates is to contact them directly so you can be the one to make the call rather than trusting that decision to an uninterested estate agent.

With LetBritain, you’ll have access to advertising on some of Britain’s biggest property websites and can filter through the best candidates at your own pace.

Sign up with our premium online lettings agents service today.