The one thing you really want when you’re renting out a property is a good tenant to take care of it.
Unfortunately, there will always be bad tenants who redress the balance.
So, rooting these out and finding tenants who’ll not only take care of your property, but will also stick to their other obligations and pay your rent on time, is key when you’re a landlord.
What makes someone a good tenant?
A good tenant should have a history of being a good tenant.
So, references from other landlords are vital when establishing a tenant’s credentials.
Of course, a positive landlord reference doesn’t always mean you’ll have the same experience with that person – nor does it mean a first-time renter with no reference history will be a bad one, either.
A good tenant, however, will:
- Pay their rent in full and on time, every time
- Stay in communication with their landlord or lettings agent over repairs, permissions and renewing or giving notice during a tenancy
- Provide access to the property when needed and be flexible
- Take care of the property like it were their own and report issues in good time
- Understand their obligations within the tenancy agreement and stick to them
Where to find good tenants and what to look for
Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic ‘Good Tenant’ tree.
If you want to have a good choice of tenants, you’ll need to advertise where they generally look for rental properties – online.
But you should also consider less fashionable ways of advertising your property, perhaps listing it in the local paper or putting up an advert on the local noticeboard or in the post office.
Thinking outside of the box can sometimes lead you to good tenants who you wouldn’t have otherwise found.
What to look for in your prospective tenants
The best way to really unearth a good tenant is to get to know them.
If you use a lettings agent to find your tenants, they should have good experience of the tell-tell signs that usually come with bad ones.
They should also have a feeling for good tenants and ask the right questions to establish whether they’re right for your property.
Here’s what you, or your agent, should be looking for in a good tenant:
- A stable job or income
- A right to rent in the UK
- A good credit history
- A good guarantor if needed
- Good communication skills
- A good reference from a previous landlord
How do you screen tenants?
The best way to screen tenants is through a letting agent, like Whitegates.
Our Basic landlord service, as well as Essential and Premium full management packages all include thorough tenant background checks and referencing to give you peace of mind that the tenant taking on your property is a good one.
Good tenant referencing should include:
- Checking the tenant’s employment status, salary structure and monthly income
- Finding out how long the tenant has been with their employer
- A look at the tenant’s credit history and whether they have any bankruptcies or County Court Judgements (CCJs) on their file
- At least two references from previous landlords where possible
Questions to ask and personal references for tenants
As we mentioned above, a good way to root out the potentially bad tenants is by getting to know them a little.
If you do get to meet your potential tenants, this is the best way to find out more about them.
Ask them about their rental history and the reasons why they’re looking to rent your property, in particular.
Find out more about what they like to do in their spare time and whether they have friends and family nearby.
If you’re able to get a personal reference from a previous landlord, this will also help you get to know what your potential new tenants are like as people.
Remember, though: You can’t discriminate against potential tenants for any of the following reasons:
- Sexuality or sexual orientation
- Marital status
- Race, religion or beliefs
If you’re a landlord, one other area of renting out property you’ll definitely need to know about is taxes.
Take a look at our guide to landlord taxes, which explains everything you need to know.