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Tips of Avoiding the Tenant from Hell

Friday, 9th November 2012

Categories: Lettings Property Management

Author: Peter Barry

One of the most frequently asked questions from Landlords is what sort of tenants we have on our books; common questions include whether they are working professionals and do they have a good background.
Referencing is probably the most important part of the process when letting a property. A Landlord negotiating the best deal on a fee with an agent means nothing if a poor quality tenant moves in, damages the property and does not pay rent.

It would be a false economy to instruct a letting agent on the basis of a small reduction in their commission rate if they operate less than thorough referencing procedures that could leave you exposed to serious expenditure in the future.
Many letting agents outsource referencing procedures to companies that specialise within this area. In my experience, such companies may not take into account certain aspects of referencing that can provide valuable information. A Landlord that we are currently working for recently relayed an experience that he’d had with his previous letting agent. A prospective tenant supplied a reference and pay slips from his employer which, on the face of it, appeared adequate. What the reference company that the letting agent used failed to discover was that according to Companies House the employer had gone into liquidation. By undertaking a simple check the risk of a tenant moving into a property but with no future employment or means of paying the rent could have been avoided.
Here at Peter Barry, we have a dedicated team that carry out referencing procedures in house and not only check the three normal means of referencing (credit checks, landlord and employment references) but also take up the past 6 months pay slips, 6 months bank statements and carry out checks on the companies employing the individuals. By undertaking these additional checks we are able to see that the salary earned goes into the bank account and whether the tenant is living within their means. A tenant earning £2,000 per month net but regularly spending that and more, may not be the best bet in making sure rent and utility bills are paid on time.
When a Landlord takes a call from an agent to book in a viewing that agent should have to hand the following information:
• Who and how many people the property is for (adults / children)?
• When they are looking at moving?
• Are the adults working and what their salaries are gross per year?
• Do they have any pets / smokers moving in?
• Why they are looking at moving from their current property?
By asking these key questions, an agent can determine whether the prospective tenant is suitable for your property and avoid wasting time on unnecessary viewings. That’s providing the tenant has been truthful!
These simple procedures will provide reassurance that you are getting the best possible tenant. If your agent cannot answer each of the questions above, maybe its time to switch to an agent that can.