10:23 AM, 27th October 2011, About 10 years ago 2
Ideally landlords want a long-term tenant who treats the property as if it is their own, and this is where it is beneficial to use letting agents , that are experienced in finding good tenants ( in Nottingham in my case) and who can carry out the relevant checks for you. If you want to do it yourself, then the key to success lies in taking your time to carry out thorough checks, and resisting the temptation to cut corners.
Perhaps the first thing to do is to check is their identity, so get a copy of their official ID such as a photocopy of their driving licence or passport and ask for their National Insurance number. Try Googling their name, it’s amazing how much information this can turn up, and it’ll certainly let you know if they’ve been in the news recently.
Basic checks include asking for three months bank statements as this will enable you to confirm their current address, their income and also assess their spending habits. It will enable you to see if they are spending way above their income or if they are making hefty monthly payments to numerous credit cards. Take down their car registration if they have one and make a mental note as to whether the make and model fits in with their financial circumstances. In addition, you should ask for their last three pay slips and a reference from their employer. Follow-up this reference with a phone call, but be sure to obtain the phone number from the phone book or a website as it’s a common ploy by fraudulent tenants to give a friends phone number and to ask them to give a glowing reference.
Ask for their current and prior landlords details, check with the Land Registry website that the prior landlord’s details are correct. It’s also worth considering their current landlord may be trying to get rid of them, so try to find out why they are looking around for a new rental property. Carry out a credit check on all potential tenants, as this will show up any County Court Judgements, court decrees or administration or bankruptcy orders against their name, and look at the electoral roll to see if they were registered at the last address making sure they don’t use any other names.
Take extra care if you’re considering renting to a group of males as they can potentially be more problematic. Alarm bells should ring if you are being asked to rent a large house to a single male or a young couple as they could be intending to use your property to grow drugs, a problem that is growing within the industry. Not only will it make you unpopular with the neighbours but can cause huge amounts of damage to the property. In general it’s best to look for couples, families, or groups of females as these groups tend to be more stable and are far more likely to look after your property. They will also be far more likely to be house proud.
It does take time to do all these checks but don’t be rushed, especially if the tenant is pushing to move in quickly without providing all the necessary paperwork. When you finally find a suitable tenant, don’t accept cheques and especially not those from overseas as the funds can appear to clear in your bank account but may bounce up to two months later.
Bear in mind it can take more than nine months to evict bad tenants, during this time you’ll be losing rental income and they could be doing a substantial amount of damage to your property. When you get your property back, it’s likely to need a fair amount of work to return it to a reasonable condition, which is yet more time without income, and thousands of pounds down the drain.
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