How to find good tenants

Some tips on how to find tenants who pay rent on time, act with courtesy and stay for the medium to long-term depending on your needs.

Not every tenancy is perfect, but you can save yourself a lot of stress by finding a tenant who treats your property with respect. Here are some tips on how to find tenants who pay rent on time, act with courtesy and stay for the medium to long-term depending on your needs.

Do a tenant screening process

Looking for tenants to rent your home isn’t as simple as it sounds. Many landlords make the mistake of letting anyone view the property without carrying out a tenant screening process beforehand. It might seem time-consuming, but one simple phone call with your prospective tenant will give you a valuable first impression. It’s reasonable for you to request a completed tenancy application form to ascertain their interest in the property, establish their ability to pay rent and to help you rule out those who are uncommitted.

Once you have prospective tenants interested in your property, meeting them in person is a sensible step in the tenant screening process. You may trust your letting agent when it comes to looking for tenants to rent, but the best way to judge a would-be tenant’s suitability is to meet them yourself.

Questions to ask prospective tenants

Your phone call or meeting during the tenant screening process should be a friendly chat, but can also be used to cover off important considerations to help you decide if the tenant is right for you. Here are some questions to ask prospective tenants:

1. What are your reasons for renting?

You’ll be able to get a sense of the potential tenant’s personal circumstances by asking this question. Have they relocated with their job? Are they looking to save money? Their answer will help you determine their ability to pay rent and the likelihood they might stay for the long-term.

2. Do you have any pets?

This is one of the most obvious questions to ask prospective tenants, and you should think carefully about your approach to tenants with pets. While you may be tempted to impose a strict no-pets rule, consider the fact that many tenants with pets struggle to find a home, so they may be especially grateful and stay in your property for the long-term. You are also within your rights to charge a higher deposit to cover the cost of rectifying any damage caused by pets.

3. What's your job?

It may sound quite direct, but it’s a reasonable question to ask when looking for tenants to rent. If they work from home, there’s greater potential for wear and tear, and if they do night shifts they may disturb your neighbours during unsociable hours. If your tenant spends a lot of time overseas there may be less wear and tear, but on the other hand, you will want to ensure your property is being looked after.

4. What is your past rental history?

You’re obliged to do a tenant background check when you find a tenant, but even so, it’s worth asking your would-be tenant about their rental history. If they’ve been evicted from a previous home, you should consider the risk of taking on the tenant, or insist upon a guarantor.

5. Who will you be living with?

Your tenancy agreement should name all the people living at the property. You should also include information on whether they have a right to sublet any part of the home. Therefore, one of the wisest questions to ask prospective tenants is who they intend to live with. Remember, you or your letting agent must conduct a tenant background check on all tenants aged 18 and over.

Where to find a tenant you can trust

When looking for tenants to rent your home you should think carefully about your target market. Consider who might be interested in your property – for example, young professionals or families – and where they’re likely to search for rental properties. You can instruct an online or high street letting agent to advertise your property on Rightmove and Zoopla, or do it yourself for free on platforms like Gumtree.

How to keep good tenants happy

It’s not always easy to find a tenant you can rely on, so once you find responsible, law-abiding tenants you should endeavour to keep them on-side. A housewarming gift such as a bottle of wine can start the tenancy on the right track and earn some goodwill on your part should any future problems arise. During the tenancy, you should maintain direct lines of communication and reply promptly to any emails or calls you receive. An occasional courtesy call will show your willingness to engage with the tenants, although you should also respect their privacy.

By law you must give 24 hours’ written notice before any inspections, except in the case of emergencies. As the tenancy reaches the end of the agreed term, you may want to offer a renewal incentive – such as freezing the rent – so you can avoid the continual hassle of looking for tenants to rent, not to mention the extra letting fees. Finally, making home improvements such as painting the walls or upgrading the TV package could also incentivise good tenants to stay.

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