Any landlord will know that finding a ‘good’ tenant is the most important step in the lettings process. When you hand over the keys to your rental property, you need to know the person you’re giving them to will look after your most significant asset.
We spoke with our network of letting agents and landlord associations to find out their tips for finding quality tenants for your buy-to-let property. Here are their top five!
1. Do your homework
You’re about to give the keys to your investment to a set of complete strangers. Stop! Do your homework. Check the references thoroughly, meet with them, even visit them in their current home if you can.
You may be desperate to get a tenant into the building to start seeing some rental income, but that impatience can lead to mistakes. Take your time to vet your prospective tenants. If they’re genuine then they won’t mind. In fact, they’ll be pleased to know you’re taking things seriously.
By following a proper referencing process, you’ll massively reduce your chances of selecting a rogue tenant.
2. Get a recommendation
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to build a business – tradesmen are almost completely reliant on it. A positive recommendation is good enough for most people to feel confident about what they’re buying – after all, no one likes to recommend a duff.
It’s the same with tenants and landlords. If you can get a good recommendation of some prospective new tenants, you’re more than likely going to end up with some quality renters in your property.
3. Use an agent
It’s tempting to try and do this all on your own – those 10% agency fees aren’t particularly attractive! But, by using an agent you can do away with some of your key challenges.
An agent is far more likely to have a larger pool of prospective tenants and, assuming you use an appropriately registered agent, are required to adhere to proper standards. They will ensure that references are thoroughly checked and paperwork is completed correctly.
Many offer a rent guarantee solution so if there are any defaults, you’re not left out of pocket.
Choosing an agent is almost as important as choosing the right tenants, so speak to other landlords or join a landlord association to get some good recommendations of agents to use.
4. Market yourself
Don’t forget that a tenant is looking for a good landlord. They don’t want a rogue landlord who is going to rip them off. It’s a two-way process so make sure you hold up your end of the deal.
Be professional in all your dealings with any prospective tenant. Be courteous and remain professional at all times. Respond in a timely way to any concerns they may have, listen to their concerns.
You’ll quickly establish yourself as one of the good guys which leads to a positive reputation and recommendations.
5. If in doubt, walk away
This isn’t so much a tip to help you find a good tenant. Rather, it’s a tip to stop you choosing a bad one.
No matter how thorough you’ve been, if you have any doubts then stop for a moment. Ask yourself what it is that’s bothering you and consider if you really want to risk leaving the keys to your buy-to-let property with this prospective tenant?
At this stage, you have no commitment to them and no one can force you to do something you’re uncomfortable with. If you’re in any doubt at all, just walk away.