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Letting Agents Home  >  Articles  >  Three easy steps to finding perfect tenants

Three easy steps to finding perfect tenants

The only time that you are totally in the driving seat with regard to your tenants is before you've rented the property to them.


Once they've moved in, your options for dealing with any problems become much more limited, time-consuming and expensive.


It's therefore crucial that you do all you can to avoid potential nightmare tenants, and seek out some perfect tenants instead, at this early stage.


Just follow these three easy steps:

1) Assume nothing, check everything

To find the perfect tenants for your property you need to stack the odds in your favour.


The only way you can realistically do this is by thoroughly credit-checking and referencing them.


Here's a list of some of the things you need to check:


  • Voters' Roll.
  • Public information check for CCJ's, bankruptcy and Voluntary Arrangements.
  • Proof of identity (photo id such as a passport or driving licence).
  • Proof of current address (recent utility bill or financial statement).
  • Last three months' bank statements (is their account being managed properly, or is it permanently overdrawn?).
  • Last three months' wage slips (for proof of income).
  • Employer's reference (full or part-time, length of time employed).
  • Accountant's reference if self-employed.
  • Last landlord's reference (establish whether there were payment issues or if any dilapidation was recorded).
  • If possible, a last but one landlord's reference (their last landlord may give the tenants a good reference just to get rid of them, so if possible try to speak to their last but one landlord - a quick telephone call will tell you all you need to know.)


It may seem like a lot of things to check, and you may be tempted not to bother because your tenant applicants seem like respectable professionals, but you must resist this temptation!


Unless you have personally known the tenants for some time, assume nothing and check everything.


To not do so is the surest route to buy-to-let disaster (along with not paying your mortgage).

2) If in doubt, consider a guarantor

If you have any doubts at all about your tenant applicants, but you would still like to proceed with them for some reason, you should ask them to provide a guarantor.


The guarantor will underwrite the tenants' obligations to pay the rent, make good any damage, settle outstanding bills, etc.


Always get a guarantor if your tenants:

  • Have no previous rental history.
  • Are less than 30 years old.
  • Have less than 18 months' employment history.
  • Haven't worked for their current employers for more than six months.
  • Are self-employed but have less than three years' satisfactory accounts.
  • Have been working abroad in the previous 6 months.
  • Earn less than three times the annual rent.
  • Are employed in an occupation which is considered changeable.
  • Are students or on housing benefit (LHA).
  • Have low (or no) credit scores.


You should of course credit-check and reference any guarantor the same as you would your tenants.


For complete peace of mind, you might also want to consider taking out rent guarantee and legal expenses insurance.

3) Trust your instincts

Only when you have completed all your credit checks and references, and if necessary obtained a guarantor, should you think about judging your tenant applicants on your intuition and instincts.


They may have passed all the checks with flying colours, but do you feel you can trust them? Have they been pleasant and straightforward to deal with?


If you have any reservations at this stage, it may be better to cut your losses and move on.


Another week or two spent looking for decent tenants is infinitely better and less costly than dealing with nightmare tenants at a later date.


Of course there are no guarantees that you won't have a problem with your tenants at some point in the future, but by following these steps you should eliminate 95% of the issues that so many landlords have to deal with.


You'll also be giving yourself the best chance of finding those perfect tenants.


In addition you should make sure that you have a properly drafted tenancy agreement drawn up.


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Registered Office: The Old Boardroom, Collett Road, Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 7LR
Directors: J Hunter, D Porter MRICS
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