There are good tenants, and there are bad tenants. Getting it wrong could result in severe financial loss either though damaged property or failure to pay the rent.

Whilst no screening process is perfect, following these 10 tips will give you a better chance of finding a great tenant for your rental property.

1. Market extensively to widen your pool of applicants

Your chances of finding a good tenant are higher if you have more people to choose from, so it’s essential to market your property as extensively as your budget permits.

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You could also target your marketing at specific types of tenant you consider to be a safe bet. For instance, corporate lets can be a good option as companies are often happy to pay a premium for quality accommodation and are willing to sign long leases. Retired people also make good tenants as they are likely to look after your property, don’t assume that they are not financially secure because they are retired.

2. Keep your property in good order

While the demand for rental property in London is high, no one wants to spend their money renting a rundown home. Make sure the place is in good decorative order with an up-to-date bathroom and kitchen.

Keeping on top of repairs and maintenance will help you attract new tenants more easily and help avoid complex and lengthy repair work, putting the property out of action between tenancies.

3. Perform checks

You want tenants who will pay the rent on time and look after your property. Background checks are an essential part of weeding out great tenants and avoiding potential nightmares.

It is essential to treat your prospective tenants fairly and equally, so your screening process should be the same for every person. Remember that it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their sex, race, religion or sexuality.

perform checksReference checks

Ask your potential tenants for references from previous landlords. Don’t just file them away; phone the landlord to check that the information provided is correct.

Verify income

Ideally, you want a tenant with a monthly income that is at least three times the rent. Ask for copies of their payslips and call their employer to confirm their employment status, length of employment and earnings.

Credit checks

A credit check will show your prospective tenants outstanding loans and debts as well as any defaults, missed and late payments. This will help you decide whether your prospective tenant can afford the rent and give you an indication of whether they are likely to pay the rent on time.

Companies like Experian and TenantVERIFY can conduct credit and identity checks on your behalf.

Right to rent checks

Right to Rent legislation demands that landlords check all tenants (aged 18 and over) can legally rent their residential property. This will involve asking to see original documents that prove they can live in the UK. More information on which documents are acceptable in a Right to Rent check can be found here.

4. Meet your tenants

You want a tenant who is open and honest and will be easy to deal with during the tenancy. It is much easier to form an accurate opinion of someone if you meet them face-to-face. If you live a long way from the property, try to make sure a trusted person meets them on your behalf, this one area where hiring a good letting agent comes in handy.

You could also check their social media profile to determine whether they would make a desirable tenant.

5. Ask lots of questions

When you meet your prospective tenant ask lots of questions, you will form a better idea of the type of tenant they are going to be by getting to know them.

  • Why are they moving?
  • Where did they live previously?
  • Have they ever had problems with a property or landlord?
  • Do they have pets or smoke?
  • How long do they plan to rent?
  • Where do they work and how long have they worked there?
  • Who will be living in the property with them?

6. Choose a tenant who is stable

When checking your tenant’s references, be wary of prospects who have changed address or jobs frequently in the last few years. Past behaviour is often a good indication of future conduct, and you may find yourself with a vacancy on your hands again.

7. Be open to pets

With only about 4% of London landlords openly allowing pets in their properties, allowing pets may boost interest in your rental property and widen your pool of prospective tenants. Your tenants will also have a big incentive to stay longer as the chances of finding alternative accommodation that allows pets is slim. Tenants with pets are generally more stable and responsible and so more likely to respect your property. They will also be grateful that you have allowed their furry friend and may pay you back by looking after your property.

be open to pets8. Think long term

If you have to choose between a short and longer-term let, be aware that renting your property for short periods is more likely to leave you without tenants at some point. The ideal tenants are those that will take a 12-month tenancy with no break clause.

9. Trust your instinct

You can do all the screening in the world, but sometimes your instincts are the best judge of character.

10. Consider a letting agent

Unless you have time to be a hands-on landlord, using good letting agents could really speed up the process of finding the right tenant.

If you’re a new landlord, choose your agent carefully; speak to different companies operating in your area and get personal recommendations. Don’t necessarily go with the cheapest, look for a reputable agent.

If you have a buy-to-let property in Newington Green, Islington or Stoke Newington, we’d be happy to talk to you about our services and how we can help you find the right tenants quickly. Contact us today to find out more.