I Want A Good Tenant!

Of all the questions we field from prospective landlords the one that comes up with most regularity is about the kind of tenant they are looking for and their worry that whoever moves in will be problematic. To this there is always a simple response which is that there are as many bad landlords as there are tenants and the right tenant will be the one that fits a number of criteria the best. This reply can be surprising as there is an assumption that landlords are less likely to cause issues during tenancy however experience shows us this is definitely not the case. Equally a landlord stating that they want a “professional” tenant or suchlike is flawed simply because we have come across every type of tenant imaginable, from working to not employed, just arrived in the country, on housing benefit, wanting to pay rent in advance and any others you can think off. We have met good, bad and indifferent people of every type. So, aside from the fact that it is a criminal offence to discriminate on race, colour, sexuality or religion, what are we looking for when it comes to tenant selection?

A common scenario – A prospective tenant views a property, likes it and applies for it. They are in full time employment and will pass the credit checks and reference process without difficulty. Sounds like a great tenant yes? Well actually perhaps not. There are other considerations that need to be taken into account. What were our impressions of them from their initial enquiry, where they courteous and polite in their dealings with staff, did they turn up on time, did they conduct themselves appropriately at the viewing, how were they on application? Did they stub out a cigarette on the drive then declare themselves to be no-smoking? What was there reaction to the property itself? These questions are very relevant indeed to the decision making process. If you are selling a property the personality of the purchaser is not normally that important in the grand scheme of things but for rental the make-up of the tenant is critical in our view. We want to have a friendly and enjoyable professional working relationship with our tenants, perhaps lasting a number of years. Accordingly, do we want to rent to someone who doesn’t appear to be on the same wavelength?

Following on from this we need to take into account the actual property that the tenant is viewing. For example a two bedroom flat in a residential development occupied mostly by an older demographic means that a family with two young children might not lead to a particularly enjoyable tenancy for either the neighbours or the tenants as the fit just isn’t right. Another obvious issue is over occupation when there is perhaps a two bedroom property and there are two adults and say four children – is this the right match? Will this be the best tenant for the property in terms of wear and tear? Sometimes we are accosted as soon as we turn up for a viewing by a neighbour telling us what they expect a tenant to be like. Whilst it is easy to dismiss this approach we need to account for the quality of life of the tenant while they are living in the property – do we want to put a tenant in and have them walking on eggshells and not enjoying their home? We need to review everything to ensure that we get the right match for the property and the landlord. We have a duty of care responsibility to both the landlord and the tenant to do all we can to make sure that they have a peaceful and productive tenancy. Getting the tenant choice right allows us to do that.

The key point of all this and something that we preach to landlords from the first meeting is that it pays to wait until the right tenant comes along. Experience teaches us that if we rush the process then we can live to regret that decision. If the right tenant is the first viewing then great, but if it takes a bit longer then that is a better conversation to have than two months into a tenancy when we discover the wrong choice was made. These are the foundations of a long, successful and happy relationship for the tenant, landlord and agent.

As we say to our landlords - The “right” tenant will be the right tenant.