This article is an external press release originally published on the Landlord News website, which has now been migrated to the Just Landlords blog.
As a homeowner, you are justly proud of your property. You paid for your property with hard-earned money and, having decided to get a tenant, you really would like to find someone who will treat it properly and with respect – as though it were their own.
It is well worth being thorough in your search for the ideal tenant, as this helps ensure a trouble-free tenancy – and, if you are delighted with your tenant, they may well want to extend their tenancy if you offer this to them. The key to success is to put in plenty of effort. Advertise your property widely, as this will bring you a greater choice of tenants. Ensure that your landlord’s insurance policy is more than adequate. Spend plenty of time with your prospective tenant chatting to them, make sure that thorough background checks are carried out on them and listen to your sixth sense.
Before you place your property on the rental market, check that the rent you will be asking is a fair one and that it compares well with similar properties in the area – rental prices do drop as well as climb! If the property is empty, ensure that all the maintenance jobs have been completed – and to a high standard – and that it is in good decorative order and that the garden is tidy and looks well cared for.
Whilst you will be taking measures to ensure that you get a top tenant, all you can do is minimise the chance of having a difficult tenant. Sadly, according to AXA, 48% of landlords have had an issue with a tenant somewhere along the way.
Establishing the basics.
The first question is whether your prospective tenant is entitled to live in the UK and do they have a right to rent a property? It is essential that you check this out straightaway, as failure to do so could result in you being fined – heavily. It is important to remember that, in choosing a tenant, landlords are not allowed to discriminate against nationality, religion, gender, family status (whether they do or do not have children) or disability.
First impressions really do count, so don’t just communicate online; meet your prospective tenant face-to-face. So, what do you think? An untidy person is unlikely to keep your property well! Do they seem open and honest? These are great qualities and help establish good communication. A quick look at their social media profile will probably reveal more about their character!
2. Can they comfortably afford the rent
In your conversation with your prospective client, it is essential to find out whether they have a secure job and to assess their salary, as rental agencies recommend that a tenant should have a salary that is 30 times the amount of one month’s rent. If the rent is £900, they should be earning at least £27,000. This is essential, as your tenant needs to be able to live comfortably and to have some slack in their finances, in case their car breaks down or they have other unplanned expenses along the way.
If a prospective tenant is making a big jump in the amount of rent they will be paying, question why. Companies such as Experian and TenantVERIFY can carry out credit checks on prospective tenants for you. Ask for references from their landlord, flatmates and current employers.
If your prospective renter is self-employed, they too will need to prove the sustainability of their income to you, which can be done using bank statements or confirmation from their accountant.
3. Will they communicate well?
Discuss methods of communication with your prospective tenant, as these are important. Give them the times that you are always available – most landlords suggest office hours – and give them a card with your email and mobile number for emergencies. Emphasise that you would appreciate their calls and would like to be notified of any problems as soon as they occur. Good landlords always follow up telephone conversations with an email summary of the conversation and what they have agreed to do, if it is a maintenance problem. They keep all paperwork to do with the tenancy in a dedicated folder for easy access.
4. Do they understand the ground rules?
Have you explained to your prospective tenant that the property is your home and that you are emotionally attached to it? Have you explained that you do not want any pets in it and nor do you want extra lodgers living in it? Set guidelines for this and suggest that, if a family member is going to be staying there more than one week, you would like to know.
Discuss with your prospective tenant which day of each month the rent will be due and ask them to establish a Direct Debit scheme for payment.
5. Try and keep everybody happen!
If they are going to be a replacement tenant for your current one, try to keep your current tenant happy, because it is difficult for them to always have people viewing the property, and showing your appreciation to them will ensure they are cooperative with moving out dates.
6. Show that it is your castle!
If the prospective tenant is viewing an empty property, make sure that they see it at its very best. Show that you care and that everything is in good decorative order, as this will show that you really do care.
Doing this may help you in the future, as well if you’ve ever thought to yourself: I want someone to eventually buy my house in the future.
How will it help?
It’s not uncommon for renters to want to purchase a home they’ve been living in for a while if they really like it, so keep your wits about you and make your property look as good as It possibly can.
And once you have found your ideal tenant?
Take a deposit, four-six weeks’ rent is the normal amount – although it will soon be capped at five weeks’ rent, under the Tenant Fees Bill, which is due to be introduced from 1stJune. This should be held in a deposit protection scheme.
Get a tenancy agreement drawn up by your solicitor to ensure that it is legally binding and agree a moving in date.
Prepare a full inventory of the property, room-by-room, with photographs, and walk through the property, checking that your tenant is happy with all the entries, and signs and dates the inventory to avoid any hassle when they leave the property…
If, after reading through this, you feel uncomfortable or lacking in confidence about dealing with all aspects of the rental, or maybe you just do not have enough hours in the day, the perfect solution is to get a letting agent. Choose your letting agent carefully; they do charge a commission each month, but they will cover all aspects of property rental well and with a good tenant under your roof.
Em is the Content Marketing Manager for Just Landlords, with over five years of experience writing for insurance and property websites. Together with the knowledge and expertise of the Just Landlords underwriting team, Em aims to provide those in the property industry with helpful resources.
When she’s not at her computer researching and writing property and insurance guides, you’ll find her exploring the British countryside, searching for geocaches.
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