When it comes to letting a property, it can be tempting to accept the first prospective tenant who makes an offer. After all, any rental void can mean unwelcome costs for landlords who understandably don’t want to see their properties lie empty.
However, from refusing to pay their bills and trashing the property to alienating neighbours and refusing to exit the property, allowing the wrong tenant into a property can be a disaster. There are ways to mitigate against bad tenants – taking out landlord's insurance and taking the necessary measures to serve tenants with a Section 21 notice are your best forms of protection. But it would save a lot of time if you could spot a bad tenant before you actually rented them a property.
With that in mind, here are some warning signs to be aware of when meeting prospective tenants and help you consider them more carefully before accepting their offer.
First impressions count
Use your common sense when it comes to meeting a prospective tenant. While everyone’s capable of having a bad day, tenants who are repeatedly late, cancel meetings or behave in an aggressive manner during viewings are tenants that you might want to consider twice before renting a property to them. Don’t ignore the warning signs.
Show me the money
While a tenant who wants to pay six months’ rent on the spot might sound like just the sort of person you’d like to have in your property, beware of an ulterior motive. They could be offering instant money to avoid a detailed credit check or because they don’t want you to visit and inspect the flat while they’re living there.
Conversely, tenants who ask if they can pay the deposit in installments rather than upfront should also be avoided. Not being able to procure the full deposit might indicate they will have trouble getting the rent together every month and paying in part will make it difficult for a landlord to register a deposit with a protected scheme.
Double-check all references
Tenants should be asked to provide a reference from both their employer and their previous landlord. It’s also worth obtaining a specialised credit check, for which you’ll need permission from the tenant. Those who kick up a fuss or drag their heels over references are giving a clear indication of the kind of tenant they would be: one to be avoided.
Checking in past check-in
After you’ve accepted an offer, references have checked out and the tenant has moved in, it is worth scheduling regular property inspections (the right to do so should be built into the tenancy agreement). Conducting regular checks of the property’s condition puts the landlord’s mind at ease. The pressure of inspection should also ensure that all good tenants feel obliged to maintain the property’s condition.
For more details and other ways to identify problem tenants, download our free eBook, 5 Ways to Spot Bad Tenants. And feel free to share your suggestions if there any you would add!