How to Spot a Good Tenant
Every landlord wants the perfect tenant, but not everyone gets them. Regardless of how clean a tenant’s credit check and references are, they can still turn out to be anything from a slight nuisance to a financially-draining nightmare. So, what do you need to look for in order to be as sure as you can that you’re letting to someone who’s going to pay their rent in full, on time and take care of your property?
One of the most important factors in a successful tenancy is having a good line of communication between you or your managing agent and your tenant. If a prospective tenant turns up to appointments on time or makes contact to explain why they might need to reschedule, then responds to any calls or emails from you quickly and with the required information, that suggests they’ll continue to communicate well.
Having all documentation to hand
Good tenants, who will have no problem affording the rent and have rented successfully in the past will be happy to provide all the documentation you need. If they’ve rented before and know the process, they should hopefully have bank statements, ID and referee details to hand; if they’re less used to renting, they should still respond to a request for the information without hesitation.
Asking sensible questions!
When you show a prospective tenant around your property, if they’re really interested in treating it like a decent home, they should have questions for you. Be very wary of people who don’t, because that shows a lack of interest and care on their part. They should really be asking things like where the boiler and stop-cock are; how the heating works; how door and window locks work; how to operate the cooker, dishwasher and washing machine; what they’re responsible for looking after in the garden and outside the property; whether there’s any storage; what the parking arrangements are and what they should do in case of any accidents or emergencies.
Showing interest in the local area
Generally speaking, good tenants will tend to want to know about local amenities and services. They may already be familiar with the area, but if not, expect them to ask where the nearest supermarket is, whether there’s a particularly good taxi company, how often buses run, etc.
Although it’s true that you can’t necessarily judge a book by its cover, people who keep their home clean and tidy tend to look after themselves. Tenants might not have a job where they need to be dressed particularly smartly, but even if they’re in jeans and a t-shirt, pay attention to whether they look unkempt. If they can’t be bothered to wash their hair and put on clean clothes for an appointment, they may not be particularly bothered about taking care of your property.
After you’ve taken all of that into account, and assuming the prospective tenant has satisfied the referencing and/or credit check process, the final thing is to trust your instinct. Sometimes everything about someone can look and sound right, but there’s just something that makes you uncomfortable. If you have any reservations, you may be better off turning them down, even if it means your property being empty for a week or two. It’s better to have a short void period than let to a person who ends up causing you problems down the line.
Never just accept a tenant that has approached you without doing your due diligence first, this can save you months or worry and hassle if they then end up not paying you the rent!