Screening tenants

Every landlord would like a tenant who pays their rent on time and who looks after and respects the property. But how can you ensure you are getting a good tenant?

The first and most important step when renting out a property is to ensure you carry out the necessary screening checks prior to signing the tenancy agreement.

The first opportunity you have to screen your potential tenant is when they first contact you regarding your property advert. They may contact you asking for a house viewing or just have general questions about the property, but make sure you use this contact as an opportunity to ask a few questions yourself. Ask them their reasons for moving, how long they anticipate staying for and their employment status. A serious tenant will always be happy to answer any questions.

If you are happy to arrange a property viewing, use this face to face contact as an opportunity to decide whether they have the potential of being a good tenant. Are they punctual? Are they polite and careful when walking around and viewing the property? Will they fit in with the current housemates or flatmates?

When you have finished showing them your property, do not commit to anything at this stage. Credit checks and references will still need to be obtained before you can make a final decision.

Credit Checks and Referencing are very important parts of the screening process. As a landlord it is essential to protect yourself and screen your potential tenant's credit. You will be able to see how they manage their other types of accounts, which may help in reducing the risk of late rental payments or the expense of an eviction.

The credit check will provide information on the tenant’s previous financial history, including their credit rating, court judgements, and other information which will help decide whether this candidate is financially viable.

If using a letting agency, they should carry out these checks on your behalf, but make sure that they do.

References are another important part of the screening process. If possible request contact details for the last two landlords to ensure a fair and true account of the candidate is obtained.

Once you have decided on who you will accept as a tenant, contact them by telephone and arrange for them to sign the tenancy agreement and finalise all the smaller details. Then contact the applicants that you have decided to turn down and be prepared for them to ask why they were unsuccessful.