Finding the right tenant is possibly the most crucial aspect of renting out property. While it’s impossible to know for sure that your new tenant will pay their rent on time, look after the rental home and stay for a reasonable period, thorough checks can eliminate some of the risk. You, or your letting agent, will, naturally be carrying out the essential background and credit checks, but a bit of pre-screening can save a lot of time too.

Before organising a viewing, it’s a good idea to arrange a quick phone call with the potential tenants. You might feel that a pre-screening conversation will be an awkward one – it shouldn’t be if you keep it factual and business-like.

If you’re not sure what to ask, there are three key questions we think you should pose to your prospective tenants.

1) When can you move in?

You’ll have a clear idea as to when the property will be available and when would be an ideal time for the tenant to move in. By asking this question, you might find that the prospective tenant can’t move in for two months or more – if you don’t want the rental property lying vacant, this applicant might not be right this time.

2) Can you meet the monthly rental costs?

It’s in the tenant’s best interests, as well as yours, that they really think carefully about the costs involved in renting this property.

You need to try and gauge their financial situation; whether they are in a steady job and earning a reliable income, and whether it will comfortably cover the monthly rent you expect to charge. You should also provide them with other information; how much the deposit will be and what is included in the rent – utility bills or council tax, for example.

3) What length of tenancy are you looking for?

If you want a tenant who can remain in your property for a longer period, make that clear. On the flip side, you may only want to engage a tenant on a short-term let; perhaps because you plan to carry out renovation work at some stage later in the year. Be clear and upfront about your plans for the property and make sure you’re both on the same wavelength.

What not to ask

While pre-screening conversations are a good idea, it’s important to treat your prospective tenants fairly and equally. Remember that it is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their sex, race, religion, sexuality or other protected characteristics.

Once you’re happy with their answers, then go ahead and arrange the viewings!

If you’d really rather not get involved in screening tenants and conducting viewings, handing the job over to a reliable letting agent could be a good move. Visit M&M Property’s services for landlords page to find out more about what we do, or please do get in touch today.