Surprisingly Useful:

How To Find A Tenant Using A Tenant Find Service

December 8, 2020

You’ve placed the ads and you’re getting enquiries; it’s time to make the big decision. Who’s going to be your next tenant and how can you be confident you’ve made the right choice? Okay, it’s not ‘The Apprentice’, but you’ve still got to be ruthless in your selection process. A wrong decision and you could lose money or find yourself with a problem tenant.

Advertise in the right place

So, where do you start? Here at Treehaus, we recommend you begin by advertising in the right places — a reputable property site that attracts a high number of enquiries and has a reputation to protect. And, there’s none better than advertising on Rightmove, the UK’s top site for home buyers and renters.

Although private landlords can’t advertise directly on Rightmove, we can provide a very affordable service that lets you place your property listing on Rightmove for just £1. When the enquiries start coming in, we forward them to you through our landlord portal. And, we generally find you’ll get a good batch of enquiries from Rightmove in the first week.

But then, it’s over to you to make the checks before making the final decision. To make sure you cover all the information you need, we recommend making a checklist like this that includes all the following points. It’s thorough and it will take some time to complete the process, but it’s your money that’s on the line.

Read More: How Much Does It Cost To Advertise On Rightmove?

Check references...

There are formal and informal ways to find out about prospective tenants.

Personal references are a good starting point, ideally from an employer and a previous landlord, with a third character reference as back-up. You can either ask for those in writing or speak directly to the references. When you contact previous landlords, ask about payment history and the condition of the property during the rental.

Then there are the more formal checks.

You must establish that the prospect has the right to rent. That’s a legal requirement and you can find information on this on the government website. Ask the tenant for details of their employment history and current earnings. Does the prospect have a ‘steady job’ or do they change jobs frequently, which could indicate future problems in maintaining rental payments? Do they have sufficient income to cover rent and the other bills they will incur on your property? Experts recommend that monthly income should be an average of three times the monthly rent.

You should also contact a credit reference agency to check for indications of poor payment history, County Court judgements and level of current debt. A top credit score is not essential, but a record of late or missed payments indicates a risk.

...Or use a formal screening service

If you don’t have time or don’t feel confident enough to carry out the checks yourself, you can ask a tenant screening service to handle this on your behalf.

Depending on the provider, the prospect may receive an online screening form to complete, which asks all the relevant questions, or the provider may carry out the checks behind the scenes, using information and criteria that you provide.

At Treehaus, we offer all of the above checks and references for just £20, and all of it can be done quickly, online. Click on our credit checks and referencing page to find out more.

Meet the prospect

Meeting the prospect face-to-face gives you the opportunity to assess their character, find out how long they plan to stay and ask for further information on issues that you are uncertain about. You can do this informally when you arrange a viewing of your rental property. This meeting also gives you the opportunity to explain your expectations of the maintenance of the property. You should also go through the tenancy agreement to make sure that the prospect understands the requirements and responsibilities of each party. Be clear from the outset about your requirements on pets, smoking and behaviour. For a free, customisable tenancy agreement that you can download, click here.

Choose your next tenant

Once you’ve carried out your checks, you’ll hopefully have a shortlist of good quality prospects who meet all your criteria.

When you come to make the final choice, don’t forget that you must not discriminate against any individuals on the grounds of race, religion, sex, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, sexual orientation or disability. The main law that covers discrimination in housing is the Equality Act 2010 - Part 4.

Treehaus can help

If you would like help with tenant referencing, we have a team of paralegals who are responsible for doing the detective work on every tenant that we place. We have strict criteria for affordability and we are forensic in our approach to checking supporting documentation. Tenant referencing is just part of the process of getting tenants on board. If you would like support with other aspects of renting your property, from finding a reliable tenant to drafting a tenancy agreement, rent collection and tenant deposit, we provide a comprehensive range of low-cost online services for private landlords. For more information, please click here.