Tenants checks and references, what you need to do to make sure you find the right tenant to live in your property

November 29, 2011

Landlord Information

When choosing a tenant to live in your property, checks and references are two of the most important steps to take. It is said that the successful landlord will eliminate 95% plus of all letting problems through careful screening and selection of tenants*.

Having a vacant property isn’t always an ideal situation for landlords and they always want to fill their properties as quickly as possible, they are missing an important factor by doing this as it is always best to have no tenant over a bad tenant.

*95% plus of residential tenants are decent, clean people who will look after your property and abide by rules that may have been set. The other 5% or one in 20 or less are the ones who cause trouble and may be picked out as trouble makers at a proper screening.

No discrimination is allowed while screening, never judge people on their race, religion, gender or disability. You are, however allowed to discriminate on the merits of the individual as qualifing tenants.

Advertising for a tenant

Believe it or not the first step in screening potentail tenants is the advertising of you property, the advertisement must be designed to look attractive and appealing to the kind of tenant you want. Your property type and location will also have a part to play in this (Upper en- luxury, middle ground- working/professional, bottom end- unemployed and Dss).

Many landlords and agents use the local press for their advertising, the internet is also good to use.

The first meeting/contact

One of the first points of contact may be a telephone conversation with the potential tenant. Make sure you have some pre-prepared deatials about the property making you look professional to the furture tenant. Also have questions prepared for the person on the line, for example name, address, telephone number (both home and mobile if possible), their reason for moving and smaller questions like do they smoke? or do they have any pets? It is also helpful to do credit checks and get other references.

A tenant who is serious about renting your property should answer all you questions with ease and correctly putting more confidence in yourself to rent you property to them.

If the potential tenant/s seem decent enough you shouldn’t be left waiting when it comes to a property viewing, it is always best to have telephone numbers on you to get in contact with people who maybe running slightly late.

Viewing the property

You will be able to make up your mind about a tenant when it comes to the viewing of your property, first impressions count! You must be positive and make sure you sell an emphasis the good points.

Use the viewing as an opportunity to observe and learn about your potential future tenant.

  •  Was the tenant on time? If they were late did they have a good reason?
  • Maybe check out their car, do they look like tidy people?
  • Check their personal apperance, are they clean and smart? Do they leave a good impression?
  • Are the potential tenants polite and respectful to the landlord.agent? Do they take care when entering the property and do they handle goods with care?
  • Does the property fit in with the tenants needs? Do they seem positive and upbeat about the property?
  • If the tenant is positive they want to move in and the landlord is happy 99% of people are able to make a decision at the viewing*. Maybe make it possible for the tenant to fill out an application form there and then and also allow them to make a refundable holding deposit which then saves time for everyone.

If you do take a refundable holding deposit make sure you take a receipt book with you.

When the property is vacant, quick action is always appreciated on both sides. If you are positive about the tenants take a holding deposit and do all relevant checks as soon as possible.

Application form

When the tenant fills out the application form you must strees that everything is filled out and nothing is missed, one form is needed for each adult occupant.

The tenancy proposal form is the most important document along with the lease agreement. This form will confirm that the tenant agrees and understands the terms and conditions of the let, also confirms if they smoke, have pets ect.

The information also on the forms will be how much the tenant will be expected to pay for their deposit and rent, also the length of the tenancy.

The tenant should be informed that credit checks will be done and will be made in accordance with the 1988 data protection act.

Tenant selection

This is the most crucial decision you will make, you must tell all potential tenants that you will view their application form along with others and you will get back to them as soon as possible.

You must look for any mistakes made on the application forms, does everything add up to what the tenant may have already told you?

Verify all references by telephone (these may be their bank, employer or previous landlords if possible). Fake references may be given so look out for these.

The current landlord for the tenants may be so desperate  to get rid of them they will give them a glowing reference, it is said that the most accurate reference will be from the landlord before the current one*.

Never waste too much time, the potential tenant may have other properties that they have seen and they might get an offer before you get chance to make them one!

Once you have made your decision, tell the successful tenant and get them to sign the agreement. They must have with them all relevant documents when you meet such as identification and they must bring a guarantor.

When informing unsuccessful tenants you must be clear when giving reasons why they were not successful, remember you must not discriminate and you should keep all your records as evidence.

Signing the agreement

You can use either a custom lease (prepared by an experienced solicitor) or one you have purchased from a legal stationers.

You must go through all the information with the tenant, make sure they still agree and understand all the terms and conditions, you both must be clear about respective obligations and rights.

Make sure everything is correct before signing the agreement, the smallest thing could be wrong and this could then go against you or the tenant in any legal proceedings. Check the tenants identification and have an independant witness present to also sign the document.

After everything is signed, payments are made and keys are handed over make sure you talk to your tenants about insurance to protect themselves and check that your landlords insurance policy is up to date with you now having a vacant property.



*Source – Landlordzone

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