How do you find quality tenants for your rental property? This is the main question all landlords want to know the answer to. And is the question we regularly get asked. But as always there’s no definitive answer to this question. Sometimes it does just come down to luck. However there are some vital key steps you can take as a landlord to protect yourself and to ensure you select tenants who will:
a) Look after your property as if it were their own home b) Pay the rent on time c) Live in the property for long periods of time (extended tenancies) d) Cause you no bother or damages to your rental property
Read on further to understand exactly what we have learnt as an Award Winning letting agent, especially when it comes to finding good, quality tenants…
1. Avoid using free advertising websites
Many independent landlords use free advertising websites in order to source tenants. Landlords often do this because they think it is the ‘quickest and cheapest’ way to do it. However this couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of these landlords aren’t aware that tenants who have bad credit history, County Court Judgements or previous landlord troubles generally look on these sites as a way to source a rental property. This is because they know a private, independent landlord won’t reference them as stringently as a letting agent would. Some do not reference at all, as they just want to let their rental property quickly.
Landlords who source tenants on free ad sites may take a previous landlords or employer references at best. But are they checking that their employer is who they say they are and not just the tenant’s friend? Are they checking the tenant’s rental history? These landlords really are opening themselves up to so many potential problems. Unfortunately we encounter landlords every week that have come to us after having a bad experience of finding a tenant through such websites. As a landlord, you need to ask yourself what is the most important factor when selecting your tenant. Finding a tenant quickly but with the risk of potential rent arrears & refusal to leave your property without a bailiff warrant at the end. Vs finding a good, quality tenant that may take a bit longer to find but will cause you no issues once they have moved in.
Filter out tenant applications with bad credit history and/or failed references checks are removed before setting up a new tenancy contract / accepting the tenant for the property. In addition to this, we also always meet our tenants in person so that we can present a character overview to landlords at the end of the viewing process. If asked, we can of course advise the landlord on who we believe is the best good, quality tenant. This is often based on their financial income, job and personal circumstances etc. Ultimately though, the decision does come down to the landlord.
2. Make sure tenants are earning enough to cover rent AND living costs
Many landlords make an error by considering tenants whose wages just about cover the rent. However, what they fail to consider is that the tenant will require additional money for living expenses. Council Tax and utilities don’t come cheap these days and that’s before you even consider food, fuel and socialising. Unfortunately for some tenants the rent is the first thing to fall by the wayside when things are stretched.
We have taken over tenancies many times from self-managing landlords who have struggled to get their rental payment in full each month. Quite often it can be down to personal circumstances such as sickness (where the tenant has been unable to work for a while) or an unexpected bill that they have not budgeted for but it still leaves the landlord out of pocket. Landlords still have to meet their mortgage payments in full each month, whether they receive the total rent money or not.
It was only the other day that we had a self-managing landlord on the phone to us in tears. She rang us to ask for our advice, as her tenant hasn’t given her the correct amount of rent since they moved into her property in January 2019. It is so difficult as a landlord to be in this predicament. But it is even harder for us as an experienced letting agent to hear that they could have avoided this altogether if they had just done thorough checks at the beginning of the let. We did a bit of digging and surprise surprise, this tenant has an extremely bad credit rating (which she didn’t pick up originally through her own personal checks). Always get an experienced person or agent to do your checks for you. Do not take the risk yourself, unless you have experience in doing so. Good quality tenants are not as easy as you think to find..
3. Ensure the property is in a good condition AND is clean before the tenancy starts
Having your rental property freshly cleaned makes all the difference. Especially if you want to start the tenancy off on a good foot. You will be surprised how quickly happy tenants moving into a property can morph into extremely disappointed and angry tenants, when something isn’t quite right. It really isn’t worth it. Pay for a professional cleaner and save yourself the time and hassle. After all, you wouldn’t want to move into a new home yourself if it was dirty or unclean.
Carry out a property inventory at the start of each new tenancy.
This highlights the condition of the property, alongside all fixture and fittings, that the tenant must sign and agree to before moving in. A property inventory document can be used as evidence in case you ever need to charge the tenant for damages to the property at the end of their tenancy agreement.
4. Resolve maintenance issues & repairs promptly
As a landlord you will occasionally come across maintenance issues and repairs within your rental property that will need fixing. Regardless of the issue itself, it is so important you keep your good, quality tenants up to date on progress and timescales and do everything you can to fix the issue within a reasonable time frame. Failure to deliver this service, could result in your tenants serving notice to leave the property early.
Note: make sure you have enough money aside each month so that any unexpected surprises can be dealt with immediately. You do not want to delay work being done to your rental property due to a lack of funds.
Not sure you want the responsibility anymore? Let us help. We can assign you to a very friendly and experienced property manager who can handle all maintenance issues for you on your behalf. You can be involved as much or as little as you want. But you should feel confident that everything will run smoothly as your assigned property manager will know your rental property inside out. We also use a range of qualified and professional tradesmen to complete all of our rental property works, which are always done to a high and professional standard. .
5. Use a professional agent to source tenants
Finally, another really important factor is to make sure you use an agent to source your tenants. Now, you may think as a letting agent we are being biased however we do have our reasons for saying this…
A good, reputable letting agent will reference all potential tenants thoroughly by running numerous background checks which will pick up bad credit history and any County Court Judgements taken out against them. You wouldn’t believe the number of applicants we have had who ‘attempt’ to get rental properties through us that either are completely unaware of the presence of a county court judgement or simply just try to hide it. However they always come out in the end – especially with our thorough checks.
Most letting agents will also source employment references and previous landlord references. Some will even have software(s) that can access an applicants spending history from their bank accounts. This helps them to review how well they manage their finances. A good letting agent will also keep a log of all tenant find information, paperwork and evidence for a minimum of 5 years.
Letting agents that have been in business for a while tend to know a lot of tenants. Some tenants could have been renting properties through them for years, therefore they know who their good, quality tenants are and which tenants to avoid. This is a huge advantage to have and should give you confidence when making the decision on what tenant to select for your rental property. Most letting agents should also have a large tenant database where tenants have asked to be contacted when a suitable property becomes available that fits their criteria. This should in theory lead to you letting your property out quicker than if you were to do it yourself independently.