How to find tenants

Landlord handing keys to tenant with documents
Choosing the right tenants

So you have purchased your property with intention of letting, or you may already have a property and made the decision that renting out the place would suit your circumstances. Either way when you are ready to let your property the next step is to look at how to find tenants and more important, the right ones.

How to find tenants

There are a number of different things you can do to you find the right tenants and hopefully minimise any problems you may face in the future.

Do it alone or get an agent

If you are ready to let your property then you have or should have at least thought about how involved with the actual tenanting you want to be. It is worth looking into what local letting agents offer, most agents offer different levels of service from just helping you to find a tenant to taking care of everything including property maintenance and dealing with rent arrears. Naturally there is a charge and the more involved a letting agent is the more they will cost.
Being a landlord comes with responsibility including compliance with legislation. Its not impossible to go it alone and there is nothing with regards to letting a property that a landlord cant do solely. There is enough resource material available in handbook form and online to outline everything involved with being a landlord but this requires studying research and keeping up to date with. You also have to ask yourself how involved physically do you want to be? Are you prepared to be woken up in the night to deal with emergencies?
Find the happy medium for your circumstances, remembering that a letting agent can take on a lot of the responsibility but at the same time they can greatly affect your bottom line.

Checking References

References are often overlooked by landlords but are a very good first base filter for finding the right tenants. These days there are quite strict referencing procedures in place to protect landlords, which can arguably prove to be a bit of a headache for tenants. Following up references by contacting the tenants employer, previous landlord or using a specialist referencing company will help you paint a better picture of the kind of tenants you could have. Be wary of some references, many landlord forums are filled with comments by landlords claiming that previous landlords have given a good reference in order to get rid of tenants and although we have little evidence of this the fact that this comes up quite a lot in landlord forums certainly raises an eyebrow.

Find the right tenants by credit checking

Doing a credit check is more for peace of mind and down to the individual landlord and the nature of the tenancy. For example you may feel more compelled to do a credit check if renting out the full property but may not if the house is in multiple occupancy.
Naturally the more transparent a potential tenant is willing to be the more at ease a landlord will feel. It is important to know a tenants financial situation, what is their main source of income? How secure is their job and how reliable do you feel they will be at paying rent?
Credit checks provide a good financial history of the tenant based on records, it does not prove that a tenant is always going to be able to pay even if they have an excellent rating and a bad history does not mean they can’t pay. Some people have just gone through a bad period in their life and can still be made to pay for it many years on. Trust your gut instinct and how you feel about the tenant, they may pass credit checks and references with flying colours but what insight can you gain from a face to face meeting and would you be happy to deal with them.

Documentation

One of the best ways of protecting yourself and being able to deal with any problems is to document certain parts of the let. A tenancy agreement may be written or can be oral and having a hard print version provides more protection for both you and the tenant. It can give you and the tenant subject to the agreement more than your statutory rights but cannot give you less than your statutory rights.
When obtaining a tenancy agreement we advise you use a reputable source and avoid the free tenancy templates available online. Agreements drawn up by Solicitors or tenancy agreements endorsed by the National landlords Association (NLA) will offer a more trusted resource.
It is worth while, especially if the property is furnished, to create an inventory that lists all the furnishings, fixtures and fittings accompanied by a description of condition including any marks and where possible supported by dated pictures.
The tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme that came into force in 2007 is a government backed scheme setup to protect tenants. It ensures tenants get their deposit back if they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement, pay the rent and bills and don’t damage the property.
Having an accurate inventory is therefore very important as it could be key in proving that items have been damaged or are missing or better still prevent such cases from arising in the first place.

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