How to find the perfect tenant

If you are a landlord seeking a solid and dependable tenant, follow this 14-point plan for a smooth, trouble-free tenancy

A combination of thorough checks, an honest chat and gut instinct will help landlords find their perfect tenant. Here are some key points to check:

1 Stable job

“Generally, referencing agencies will require the tenant’s yearly income to be 30x the rent – so to pay £1,000 a month rent, the tenant will need to earn £30,000. But landlords prefer the occupier to have an income that doesn’t just cover rent but enables them to live comfortably,” says Mark Blakeway, head of lettings at The Grantley Group.

If they are self-employed, they’ll need proof of sustainability of income from an accountant, or by providing tax returns or bank statements.

2 Right to rent

Landlords must ensure the tenant can legally rent in the UK and must inspect original documents, not copies. “Landlords must not discriminate directly or indirectly on the basis of gender, disability, nationality, religion or race,” says Andrew Kafkaris of Bruton Street Management.

3 Do thorough background checks

“This is where a professional letting agent comes into its own. We have accounts with credit-referencing agencies so we can run checks on basic affordability, previous landlords, land registry checks if the tenant owns a home, enhanced credit checks through Experian, and we can look at anyone financially associated with the tenant,” says James Cameron of Vesper Homes.

4 Use a guarantor to certify the rent will be paid

“Asking for a six-week deposit and an upfront payment via direct debit will help ensure your tenants pay their rent in time,” says Lucy Morton, head of residential agency at JLL.

5 Communication skills

First impressions are crucial, and a scruffy, tardy tenant is unlikely to win over a landlord. You want a tenant who will be open, honest and easy to deal with throughout the tenancy.

Make sure you check their social media profile too – it may hint at a party animal that makes for a less than desirable tenant.

Long-term view: twelve-month tenancies for full-time employees tend to fit the bill Credit: Getty

6 In it for the long run

“The ideal tenants are those that take a 12-month tenancy or longer, with no break clause, and are employed full-time by a UK-based company,” says James Cameron of Vesper Homes.

7 Encourage the tenant to contact you as soon as something goes wrong

“A lot of tenants ignore issues with the property because they fear the landlord will get angry and blame them for the damage or even ask them to move out. That’s a false perception. Landlords appreciate it when issues are report immediately,” says Duncan Chamber, senior account manager at No Agent.

Vesper Homes, for example, facilitates landlord/tenant interaction by providing a free Amazon Echo.

8 No pets please

“Pets can be an issue for landlords who are concerned about property damage or noise complaints. Most of our landlords are renting out their own homes rather than investment properties and they have a strong emotional attachment to the house,” says Sarah Smith, lettings manager at Strutt & Parker in Cambridge.

9 No sharers

Landlords are worried about sharers moving in additional occupants, such as boyfriends or girlfriends. “With the tenant fees ban looming, landlords have concerns about the changeover of tenants and the administration fees incurred to adjust paperwork,” says Sarah Smith.

10 Keep your current tenant on side

“The availability date and flexibility of the current tenant around viewings, photos and last-minute access can be a big factor in how quickly a suitable tenant can be secured,” says Steve Cook, head of lettings and management at Henry & James in London’s Belgravia.

11 Don’t rush

“Listen to your gut. Even if all the referencing stacks up, don’t be afraid to ask the tenant questions. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t sign on the dotted line,” says Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action.

12 Keep the property clean and tidy

A well-maintained property will bring out the best in the tenant. Make sure everything is in working order – particularly the shower. “Tenants hate poor water pressure,” says Charles Eddlestone, manager at Fine & Country in Fulham, west London.

13 Avoid a tenant making a huge jump in rent

“They will almost certainly be dissatisfied and this can lead them to become troublesome tenants,” says Lynsey Schipper, head of lettings at Lurot Brand.

14 Know your local market

“Knowing the price points and likely demographic of the tenant will help landlords to price the property correctly and attract a suitable occupier,” says Andrew Kafkaris of Bruton Street Management.


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