Taking on a new tenant is much like employing someone for a new job – both need to go through the application and referencing process.
So how should a landlord go about taking a tenant reference?
Plenty of services offer tenant credit checks, but they are measures of risk designed to tell landlords whether the tenant will pay the rent rather than reveal their temperament and attitude.
Nevertheless, financial risk is the main assessment.
Landlords do not have to like their tenants; they merely have to pick those who pay the rent in full and on time.
The rule of thumb is the rent should not be more than 30% of the tenant’s net monthly income.
If the credit check shows they have a lot of credit outgoings and late payments, then they are probably going to miss the rent day.
Ask if the tenant has a criminal record. If the offences are ‘rehabilitated’ the tenant is not obliged to reveal them. Running a Google search on the tenant’s name should reveal any serious recent events.
You can ask a former landlord or letting agent for a tenant reference, but this is unlikely to reveal any crucial information as they will have concerns about libelling someone with comments in writing that they may not be able to prove in court.
Do look for gaps in employment and residential histories – if they coincide, this could mean they may have spent some time in jail.
Meeting the tenant is often the acid test.
Have a list of set interview questions that you ask every candidate – that way you do not miss any vital information and get a feel for how each tenant answers the queries.
Body language is a powerful tool and most of us pick up on signals without realising.
That’s why we instantly like some people while disliking others.
From October 1, landlords in the West Midlands will have to check residence papers for tenants before agreeing to rent them a home, so landlords need to consider introducing this into their selection process.
With sensitivity over race, religion and gender, never ask questions that could be interpreted as controversial or a breach of human rights.