It might sound like a line from a fairytale involving bears and an unlocked door… however, how many landlords really know the people who are about to live in their property?

Many landlords will report that the majority of their tenants are trustworthy and respectful of their properties. Those that have experienced few issues with tenants may be less likely to adopt a thorough process of checking potential tenants prior to signing a lease. However, if issues arise (such as rent arrears, regular noise complaints from neighbours, negligence to property), after a tenant has moved in it can be a very long process to resolve or, worst case, evict.

Landlords often have full time jobs and are busy people. The viewing process can be lengthy and time consuming leading to landlords being eager to find a tenant as quickly as possible and prevent any void periods in rent too. A couple of essential checks may be all the landlord carries out before confirming to the tenant that the property is theirs now to rent.

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Should landlords really take such a risk with their most valuable asset?

Unless landlords use a tenant referencing company, there are some steps that we recommend following to help secure a reliable tenant. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for certain details from prospective tenants. It is important to gain full information from the person that could be your tenant for years to come, and to know that it is all accurate.

  1. First of all, ensure you know that the tenant is who they say they are – ask to see their original passport or identification card along with a photocopy that you can retain for you own records.
  2. Obtain a reference from their current employer – this will help with the reassurance that they have a stable job, regular income and can afford the rent. In addition, check the company online and then call the referee at their workplace to obtain a supported verbal reference.
  3. Acquiring a credit score through a credit reference check is also a good idea and can help prevent any hidden nasties for the future.
  4. Request a copy of the prospective tenant’s bank statement showing evidence of their salary, plus calculating their regular standing orders and direct debits can help assess the tenant’s affordability of the rent.
  5. Note down their National Insurance Number too. This will also prove that the individual is legally working and living in the country.
  6. Ask for a reference from their current landlord or agent plus a copy of a utility bill or bank statement showing the address. Again, call and speak to the landlord on receipt. Knowing how the person treated their previous property is vital, as well as being reassured that they paid on time and were cooperative during all communication throughout the tenancy.

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Don’t be put off, it’s not as time consuming as it might first appear. The majority of the above can be requested in one phone call. It’s pays to take a little bit more extra time to ensure your property is in good hands for the future.