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The landlord's guide to choosing a tenant

2-minute read

Mollie Millman

21 September 2020

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Landlords may often have a choice of tenants, particularly in areas where demand for rental properties is high.

But deciding which tenant to pick can depend on a variety of factors, including when they can move in – as this will help to minimize any potential void periods.

However, the priority for most landlords will be to find a long-term, reliable tenant who pays their rent on time.

When choosing a tenant, there may be ways of reducing the risk of ending up with one who doesn’t fit the bill.

These may include giving a tenant priority if they're willing and able to pay a year’s rent upfront.

1. Asking a tenant to pay a year’s rent upfront

Some tenants may be willing to pay upfront for a year to secure their tenancy, particularly in areas where there's a lot of competition for rental properties.

Under normal circumstances, this would be reassuring to landlords. And in a year that saw the government ban evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be particularly attractive.

Receiving a year's rent upfront means that a landlord doesn't run the risk of a tenant failing to pay their rent during that period, with the landlord potentially left unable to repossess their property. This could be due to a new eviction ban or a backlog of court cases that would delay the process.

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2. Doing your research

Making sure a tenant is thoroughly screened before they move in can help to put a landlord’s mind at rest. While a letting agent will run credit checks – and you can ask for confirmation of these – you can also make sure that other types of checks are carried out thoroughly.

These include the inventory being comprehensive and covering as much as possible, along with supporting evidence. If anything is left out, you have no evidence to support any financial claim at the end of the tenancy.

For example, make sure you take photographs of each of the rooms so that you can highlight any damage that may need to be paid for at a later date.

3. Meeting your potential tenants

It's easy to dismiss the need to meet tenants and say that as long as a tenant is paying the rent then it doesn’t matter who they are.

Indeed, there are rules against discriminating against so-called 'protected characteristics' such as age, gender, sexuality, or disability.

But part of your checking process into how reliable a tenant will be in paying their rent can be to meet them in person. This can help you to decide if the information they tell you face to face is in line with what the letting agent has already told you.

You may of course decide to leave this all up to your letting agent, but in an era of such change within the buy-to-let market, it's financially worthwhile to add a layer of your own research and ensure that you find a long-term, reliable tenant who pays their rent consistently on time.

Did you choose to meet your potential tenants in person? Let us know how it helped (or not) in the comments.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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