How do I choose a good tenant?


As a landlord, attracting a good quality tenant is important.  A good tenant is not necessarily just based on paying the rent on time; it’s more than that.  A good tenant is someone you trust, who suits the house, and who communicates with the landlord or the letting agency.

Landlords will have different criteria depending on the type of house they are renting out, for example, a student ‘pad’ will not require the same calibre of tenant as a million pound apartment in London.  However, it is still possible to ‘vet’ the potential tenants and choose the very best for your property.

Here is how…

  • Check their credit history

This is absolutely essential and will immediately pick up on someone who has a ‘dodgy’ credit rating.  It’s worth investing in a full credit check at this stage to avoid problems in the future.  Once the tenant has moved into the house, they have rights.  A credit check company can be used for a more thorough check.  Any signs of a history of late payments probably means trouble, so avoid!

  •   A good tenant application form

A good application form will request information on any existing and previous landlords, employment, plus personal references from professionals.  All the information on this form should be thoroughly checked with a fine-toothed comb.  There is no point in asking for history if you don’t check it out.  Verify the legitimacy of all the information given to ensure that you are dealing with an honest and trustworthy individual.  If you uncover obvious lies on the form, you should be asking yourself why.

  • Check with previous landlords

Don’t judge a book by its cover… always get a reference and a second opinion.

The only way you can determine whether someone will make a good tenant is if they have either been personally recommended by someone you know, or by checking their references.  Don’t trust a written reference without following it up; it could be forged by any old Tom, Dick or Harry.  Give their previous landlords a call and have a chat with them.  Have some questions written down before you ring so that you are fully prepared.  Landlords usually want to help each other.

  •  Direct payment into your bank account

If you are considering renting your property to social benefit tenants, make sure they are in a position to make payment directly into your bank account.  If you accept a tenant who can only make cash payments, this is usually when problems may occur.  It’s too easy for them to put other things before their rent, and fall behind in payments.

Arrangements can now be made for their housing benefit to be paid directly to the landlord, missing out the tenant, and guaranteeing payments.

It doesn’t necessarily follow, however, that social benefit tenants are the ones that cause the problems.  They can be just as good tenants as anyone, as long as you do your homework.

  •  Secure a decent deposit

The perfect tenant is one who always pays their rent on time, communicates well with the landlord, and treats the property with respect.

Unfortunately, not all tenants fall into this category!

To be safe, landlords should not only secure a main deposit to cover any possible damage, they should also ask for a month’s rental in advance to cover any late payments.  The main deposit must be registered with a recognised ‘deposit scheme’, and cannot be used to cover late payment arrears.  Depending on the size and quality of the property in question, we recommend that some landlords may want to secure upto 3 month’s rent in advance as security against late payment, particularly considering that it could take this amount of time to legally evict someone.  Check with your rental agent or legal advisor.

Join the NLA – National Landlords Association

This offers landlords support and advice on every aspect of renting property.  It also offers access to a wide range of discounted products and services.  There is an advice line, plus regular opportunities to meet up with other fellow landlords.  In a nutshell, it’s a support network for landlords.

If you follow these simple rules, you should find yourself in a better position to pick out the best tenant for your property.

What are your thoughts on this article?  Are you a landlord?  Do you have any good tips or ideas that we haven’t covered?  We would love to hear from you.

Send us an email lettings@pmslettings.co.uk  or give us a call on 01243 788257