Landlords: how to find the right tenant

If you’re a landlord, choosing the right tenant could be the biggest decision you make.

Landlord Advice

29 March 2017

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A recent survey found that while many property renters are respectful, 49% of UK landlords have at one time or another had issues with their tenants.

Avoid renting out your property to difficult people by taking the time to vet them properly and save yourself plenty of frustration in the long run, not to mention claims on your landlord insurance.

Widen your pool

Your chances of finding a good tenant are higher if you have more people to choose from. Market your property far and wide, and don't be afraid to advertise creatively. Be proactive, checking ‘room wanted’ messages in local newspapers and relevant Facebook groups.

Perform checks

If you’re a landlord, it is vital that you carry out the appropriate tenant checks. If you don’t carry out these checks, you could end up with a problem tenant, your property could be at risk and, in some cases, your insurance could become invalid. Ask potential tenants for references – both from previous landlords and flatmates. Follow up on the paperwork provided to ensure that there's evidence of a steady income. Companies like Experian and TenantVERIFY can conduct credit and identity checks on your behalf. If you're based in England, check your prospective tenants’ right to rent: you could face a £3,000 fine if you don't.

Meet the applicants

You will get a much better impression of someone if you meet them in person, rather than just communicating online. Try to spend at least ten minutes with potential tenants to get to know them better.

Take a deposit

A deposit acts as a safety net in case the tenant causes property damage. There's no set amount, but most private landlords ask for four to six weeks rent upfront. You are legally required to keep this money in a deposit protection scheme.

Make an inventory

Before asking "what does landlord insurance cover?", you should make an inventory of everything in the property. This way you'll know if anything goes missing, breaks or is stolen. Be as comprehensive as possible, taking photographs of rooms before your tenant moves in to avoid disputes later on.

Have your paperwork in place

A tenancy agreement is essential and protects your rights as well as those of your tenant. Most landlord associations have templates on their websites which are free for members to download.

Consider an agent

If you don't feel confident enough to do all this yourself, contact a letting agency. They'll take a cut of your rental income in exchange for managing your tenants. 

You can protect yourself by taking out insurance for landlords. For information on your responsibilities after you secure the ideal tenant, see our landlord checklist.