Landlords: How to choose the best tenants

Rent arrears, antisocial behaviour, and vandalism  are some of the worries and potential problems a landlord may have concerns about when choosing their tenants. In fact, 47% of landlords have reported to have had issues with tenants not paying the rent on time.

There are however lots of worthy potential tenants out there prepared to look after your property and pay the rent on time…it’s just a question of finding them! From identifying what you want out of a tenant to verifying their credentials, there are a number of ways you can increase your chances of finding the ideal tenant for your property!

Determine your expectations

Your expectations  depend on what type of property you are renting out e and what type of tenants fit in with your management style. You should consider whether or not you want to be a hands-on landlord or whether you want to employ a managing agent to deal with the tenants and the maintenance of your property on your behalf.  You should consider whether you want to let your property to families, students, single professionals or couples. If you are planning on letting your house out to students then you will need to be prepared to find a new set of tenants when they finish their courses, you will also have to ensure you have any required licenses you need to let out your property to multiple occupants. You may want to consider whether you are open to having tenants who want pets at the property and so on.

Get references from their previous landlords

One of the most accurate references you can get is from your potential tenant’s most recent landlord. They will let you know if the tenant has looked after the property they currently or have previously lived in, whether or not they have paid the rent on time and if there were any complaints lodged against them by neighbours. Make sure you ask the tenant for the details of their previous landlord. If the potential tenant has not rented previously you should ask for a reference from their current employer.

Verify income

Any  potential tenant will generally pass over the details of their salary and employer, as they will understand you  need to see proof of their ability to afford the rent for your property. A general rule of thumb is to choose a tenant whose monthly income is three times as much as the rent.  

In order to assess the potential tenant’s affordability you may want to request the following:-

  • A valid employment contract
  • A letter from their employer confirming that they work there
  • Recent payslips or bank statements
  • Award letters if the potential tenant is claiming benefits.

Credit check all applicants

Running all potential tenants through credit checks won’t tell you anything about their personality, but it can give you a fair picture of how they handle their money. If a tenant has poor credit but they have received positive feedback on their references and they are able to afford the rent according to their salary, then it could be worth asking them how they got a poor credit rating. You never know, some people go through a bad patch with money such as a divorce or a redundancy – so the debt may be a result of something that happened in the past rather than their present.

Always meet face-to-face with prospective tenants

When choosing your ideal tenants make sure you or your managing agent are available to meet them face to face, as this can help you or your managing agent develop  a trusting relationship with them. For example, if someone is offering a cash deposit of six month’s rent in advance but does not want to meet you in person, then this may be a red flag, for example they may use your property for illegal purposes or not be who they said they are the application. Meeting your prospective tenants in person also gives you or your managing agent a chance to ask them what they are looking for in a rental property (i.e. do they want to live in it on a short or long-term basis?). On the flipside, it also gives them a chance to ask you questions about the property and find out more about it.

We can help with the following:

  • Advice for landlords or prospective landlords on tenancy agreements.
  • Advice for buy to let landlords.
  • Advice for tenants who are buying a new home.

Speak to our team