Becoming a buy-to-let landlord might sound like easy work, but the truth is that there are lots of things that can make your job difficult. One of them is dealing with bad tenants.
Whether they’re late paying their rent, damaging your property, causing noise disruption in your neighbourhood, taking part in illegal activities or refusing to leave at the end of their tenancy, there are many reasons why bad tenants can cause you serious headaches.
Though it’s impossible to weed out the good tenants from the bad tenants entirely, there are some ways to reduce the chances of letting out your property to a tenant you’ll regret.
Below, we’ve put together nine ways to avoid bad tenants as a landlord…
Though certainly not failsafe, meeting tenants in person before letting out your property to them will give you an idea of who they are and how they behave. Many landlords pass this responsibility over to a lettings agent, but having some first-hand experience with the people you could be renting to will offer peace of mind - listen to your gut when making a decision.
Show them around your property and ask questions about who they are, what they do, and who will be living with them. You can usually work out whether someone is being genuine.
As well as running a credit check on potential tenants, ask for three months of statements and check their expenditure. If they’re paying out hundreds of pounds per month to credit card and finance companies, you might want to question whether they can afford to pay the bills on time. And look for consistency; did they pay their old landlord on the same day every month or was it sporadic? If there are any alarm bells, think twice before renting to them.
You should look out for forged passports, driving licences, and other identification - are your tenants who they say they are? By law, you must check that your tenants have the right to rent in the United Kingdom, so make sure that every piece of information received is verified and ask for further proof if you’re not happy with what they’ve provided. Bank statements, utility bills and letters addressed to their previous residence will give you a clear indication.
If you’ve asked for references from their employer or previous landlords, don’t just take their word for it or assume that they’re telling you the truth. Call the company or agent rather than calling a direct line and make sure you’re speaking to the person they say you are. Ask them direct questions and be upfront; you only want to let properties to reliable, honest tenants.
Though it can be tempting to accept cash renters, especially when they offer several months worth of rent in advance, but it usually means that the tenant has intentions.
Ensuring everything is conducted professionally and though bank transfers means that you’ll be able to document payments and ensure that your tenants pay you on time, every month.
Some websites allow you to research a tenant’s rental history and see where they lived and when. Remember: everyone’s circumstances are different and those in the rental market are more likely to move frequently, but if you spot that your tenants up sticks and move to a new property every six months, you should question whether they’re planning to stay in your property for a long period, or whether they’re usually evicted because of bad behaviour.
Whether you’re going to manage your property on your own or you work with a lettings agent, make sure that you prepare a well-written tenancy agreement before letting out a property. Outline what is expected of your tenants and what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. Never accept a tenant or hand over the keys to your property without getting their signature on the tenancy agreement first; it’s an unnecessary risk that could prove costly.
Once you’ve chosen a tenant to rent your property, work to maintain a decent professional relationship with them. Be responsive to their communications and be understanding of their circumstances. If a tenant is made redundant, for example, they should feel confident in telling you that things will be tight for a while, rather than worried you’ll try to evict them.
Finally, make it easier for your tenants to pay you on time. If your tenants are paid at the end of the month, match your rent due date to their payday to reduce the likelihood of delayed or missed rental payments. Though it’s ultimately the responsibility of your tenants to pay you on time, anything you can do to make it easier for them to budget will work in your favour.
Though certainly not an exhaustive list, the tips we have offered in this article should help you to make better decisions when meeting new tenants. Check back soon for more tips and tricks on renting properties, and consider becoming a Billing Better partner to offer tenants an easy way to manage their bills and unlock a new revenue stream for your business.