I’m very fond of the saying: “The best way to never experience a bad tenant is never to let one into your property in the first place“.
In reality, 95% of tenants are good tenants, i.e. they pay their rent on time and do not damage the property.
Therefore, you only have to avoid the 5% of bad tenants out there. Unfortunately, they do not come wearing a badge saying “Bad tenant”! If you are a Landlord for any length of time, it is inevitable that you are going to come across one, so do what you can to minimise your risk of ever renting to a bad tenant by taking some basic precautions.
So here are a few of my tried and tested tips that are really simple to implement:
1. Go and visit the tenant in their existing property. This will give you a very clear indication of how they are going to treat your property! Habits are habits, so if you are greeted with a filthy house, evidence of partying, or the smell of smoke, then you can be pretty sure that this will carry on in your property.
2. Ask for a rental guarantor i.e. someone who will guarantee to pay the rent if they default. Only accept a rental guarantor who is in full time employment or a home-owner.
3. Check your tenant with other landlords by using a referencing service like Landlord Referencing Services.
4. Ask for an employer’s reference and be sure to follow it up and speak with the employer to double check it. Find out how long they have been employed by the company.
5. Ask for a previous Landlord’s reference, and again follow it up and speak with the Landlord to confirm that it is authentic.
6. Ask to see their Passport to confirm their identity, and a copy of their bank statement or wage slip to prove that they can afford the monthly rent. (Their salary should be a least three times the monthly rent in order for them to be able to afford to live in your property, pay utilities, council tax, buy food etc). A genuine tenant will try and accommodate these requests, a bad tenant will create a fuss and start making excuses.
7. Listen to your “gut instinct”. Some tenants seem nice on the surface and on paper, but your instinct will warn you against them. (The one time I went against my instinct, I suffered a tenant who turned out to have mental illness problems and had to be sectioned by the police).
8. Be very wary of any tenant offering to pay large amounts of rent up-front. This is a sign that they could be wanting to use your property as a Cannabis factory. This is an increasing problem for Landlords and you must be wary of the signs.
Further reading: The green green grass of home … and evil growing trend in BTL
I have found that delinquent tenants shy away from one or more of the above, thereby self-selecting themselves away from your property. They will go and try and rent from another Landlord who does not have these strategies/barriers to entry in place.
Further tips on how to avoid bad tenants can be found on the Property Tribes forum.
If you are employing a lettings agent to find you a tenant, be sure that they adopt a vigorous vetting process including a credit check, verifying the tenants bank details, and getting a bank reference.
Follow me on Twitter: @4_walls
Vanessa Warwick is a former TV presenter, turned professional residential Landlord, consultant, and speaker. Along with her husband Nick Tadd, she founded Property Tribes, which is now the U.K.’s busiest on-line Landlord and investor community. Nick and Vanessa have just launched their new tech product, Yulpa, an on-line “property office/filo-fax” that helps you organise and manage your entire property life in one place. It comes with an iPhone app that does auto due diligence on any property being considered for purchase.
Vanessa and Nick advocate the use of technology and digital and social communications in property, and speak at events all over the U.K. as well as consulting for the BBC on property. They invest mainly in flats London and family houses in the South East and are also big advocates of holiday lets, having two upmarket holiday lets on the South Coast that achieve above-average occupancy thanks to the couple’s web efforts and vertical marketing strategies.