DBPR asked property rentals experts Catherine Cockcroft, Lynsey Schipper, Tim Hassell and Marie Beirne for their tips to landlords for choosing a good tenant; what a landlord needs to look for in a stable tenant, running the necessary checks or making sure your letting agent is doing this on your behalf.
Catherine Cockcroft, Director & Head of Rentals at Aylesford International
References are the most important check: For credit reference do check if the prospective tenant has been in the UK for more than a year. This usually includes checking their address, checking that there are no County Court judgements against them. Most credit referencing agencies will check passports/visas and will report if they think that the passport could be false.
The Right to Rent responsibility still lies with the landlord or the agent, but often they are used to seeing false documents so they can raise this issue if necessary. They will usually obtain a previous landlord’s reference as well as a reference from the employer with income details. On top of that, if the prospective tenant has a UK bank account, we would recommend that a bank reference is done (credit referencing agencies do not usually do this).
Previous Landlord: One of the most important references is from the previous landlord, who can confirm if the rent has been paid on time and also if the tenant has looked after the property.
Reason for Renting: Try and find out why the prospective tenant is renting. Is it a life style choice/on a contract for a specific length of time/looking to buy when the time is right?
Tim Hassell, Managing Director at Draker Lettings
Most tenancies that go wrong, do so before the contract is even signed. By this I mean that either the estate agent or the client have neglected to act on signals that a prospective tenant may not be up to par. Learning to choose the right tenant for your property is crucial to the success and most importantly the enjoyment of being a landlord.
When submitting a tenant to our client we always ensure that we have obtained a full profile including age, nationality, profession and basic financial standing. If a tenant is properly profiled it becomes quite clear where the point of risks are.
If a tenant is based overseas and has all finances outside the UK – a landlord cannot legally pursue them for non-payment of rent.
Solid referencing – it is very important that the agent not get drawn into “selling” a tenant to our client. A tenant should be primarily assessed based on their profile and the references that they can produce. If a tenant is from overseas with full UK references (which many of our best tenants are) we require rent payable in advance to reduce the financial risk.
The process of renting a property in London is relatively straightforward. All a prospective tenant needs to do is to provide three references, sign a contract and pay initial moving in funds. It can be a red flag if a tenant makes this process complicated. If the basic requirements cannot be met in a transparent and straightforward way we always insist on upfront funds.
Lynsey Schipper, Associate Director Head of Lettings at Lurot Brand
Unfortunately, there are never any guarantees, it is usually only once its too late that a ‘bad tenant’ comes to light. However, to stack the odds in your favour, I would suggest requiring your agent to carry out due diligence on your behalf by establishing the following:
Identity: a photocopy taken from their original passport should be taken within office
Affordability: How much do they earn? How often? Who from?
Bad debt: Do they have a record of anything untoward / outstanding elsewhere? Prior disputes?
Credit history: Do they personally have a credit history within then UK? If not, it is worth remembering that foreign nationals are essentially impossible to pursue once returned over -seas.
References: Can their current landlord provide a verifiable reference for them? One of the best things we ask is whether they would rent to their tenants again. The best tenants are those that generate the best tenancies that is low maintenance – long term ones!
Marie Beirne at Aston Chase
There are a number of key indicators with regards to a quality/stable tenant, firstly I believe utilising the expertise of an ARLA qualified lettings agent is a good start as they are up to date on the latest legislation. This enables landlords to be compliant with their legal obligations and not fall foul of changes that have been implemented.
An agent will be responsible for ensuring the full vetting of prospective tenants, normally using a third party referencing company such as Experian or Maras. They will do full credit checks on the individual, previous landlord checks, employment checks and will also incorporate the new requirements for landlords to check that prospective tenants have the right the rent in the UK by checking their VISA’s passports and supporting documents.