If you’re looking for perfect tenants who want to live in your property long term, pay their rent on time and leave without damage. There’s no magic answer, but there are some easy steps you can take as a landlord to protect yourself!!
1) Don’t use Gumtree!!
Many landlords use Gumtree because it’s free and there’s a ready source of tenants. Do you know why many tenants use Gumtree because they’re dealing directly with a landlord. Landlords tend not to reference as thoroughly – so tenants who have bad credit, county court judgements or have been in trouble with previous landlords look on Gumtree as a way to source properties. Landlords who use Gumtree may take an employer reference at best but are they checking the tenant’s employer or the tenants best friend? Are they checking the tenants previous rental history, CCJ’s? You’re really opening yourself up to potential problems with Gumtree, we deal with landlords every day who’ve had a bad experience. As they say – Buy cheap pay twice, or in this case several times over with the potential of 12 months of rental arrears!!
2) Check the affordability of your tenant
Don’t be fooled into thinking if the tenant has just enough money for the rent – that they’ll be able to afford it. You need to consider other expenses which are increasingly expensive – council tax, utilities, food, fuel & even socialising. The biggest cost a tenant can cut back on if they don’t have enough money is their rent. This could be for many reasons sickness, an unexpected bill but whatever the reason this leaves YOU the landlord out of pocket still having to cover your mortgage payment. Recently I had a self-managed landlord phone me in tears, who hadn’t paid their rent for several months and didn’t know what to do. One of the things we do is make sure that earnings are at least 35 times the monthly rent or 30 times with a home owning guarantor – make sure you’re covered!
3) Check social media
You wouldn’t believe the number of tenants who divulge every aspect of their life on social media. Are they a drug addict? Do they like lots of parties? Are they the type of person you’d like to rent your property. Facebook is a great source of information about your prospective tenant – have a quick look and see what you can find!!
4) Ensure the property is let in a good condition and cleaned from the start
The best way to start is the way you want to go on – make sure all repairs are done before the tenancy begins and the property is freshly cleaned. A tenant will be looking forward to moving into their new home, beginning a new life and there’s no better way to destroy any goodwill than by providing a below standard property. Make sure all repairs are done and the property is clean so that your relationship with the tenant isn’t strained from the start. No tenant wants to move in and spend the first few days cleaning dirt and mess left by previous tenants – make sure you start a tenancy on the right note. This also importantly means that when the tenant moves out there will be no excuses over the initial state of the property and the tenant will have to return it in the same good condition they received it.
5) If you want to…….use an agent who references thoroughly
Of course I’d say that but it’s my job to check tenants day in day out. We deal with 30-40 prospective tenants a month – we deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s our job to sort through tenants and present only ones which have met our criteria. Our criteria is based on over 10 years of experience plus the fact the directors of the company also let properties themselves. This means I’d know straight away if tenants were regularly not paying their rent – my director would be having a lively conversation with me, trust me! Luckily that’s not the case so I can firmly say our criteria manages to filter out as many bad tenants as possible.
I hope you found these steps useful, there’s no magic answer but sourcing tenants from the right place, referencing them thoroughly and starting your relationship from the right place is much more likely to leave you with happy paying tenants, looking after your property for longer.