The real question is do landlords go out and find good tenants or do they attract good tenants into their properties? I suppose in reality, it is a combination of the two.
You see, if a property is kept in a good state of repair, is in an ideal location and has a personable feeling to the place, then by all rights it should attract a number of prospective tenants. It is then up to the landlord to select the good ones from the potential applicants and there are a number of ways that this can be done.
A good, thorough credit check will reveal a number of essential points to a landlord, the most important of which is late payments for credit cards, hire purchase, loans and the like. You see if an applicant has a history of late payments, then the probability of a late or at worse a series of late payments on rent is more likely to occur as the tenant will have to juggle a fixed amount of money between a number of recipients.
There are a number of major Credit Check Companies which will assist and the more detailed this check, the more likelihood that defaults in rent may also appear.
I have stressed in a previous article the importance of obtaining this form from all prospective applicants.
This should be a thorough form so that you can identify previous landlords, existing and previous employers and at the same time, obtain information regarding personal references and possible guarantors. With all this information in place, you should have a thorough background and history on each applicant, provided you check and verify the legitimacy of the information you have received.
Of course, nothing is infallible and so it does help to gain information elsewhere on a tenant’s history.
There is an old saying, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
By this I mean in order to find good tenants for your property, you need to know whether your prospective tenant has been a good one in their present and previous rentals. The only way to find this out is to telephone the landlords and ask them direct.
I do not recommend only relying on a written reference because these can just be a photocopied letter with the name and address changed to fit the context of the letter. If you are able to talk direct with the landlord, you can then ask the direct questions and hopefully get direct and honest answers. After all, all landlords ideally want to find good tenants and therefore if each one helps the other, you are able to weed out the bad ones.
Now it does not necessarily follow that all Social Benefit Tenants destroy properties once they get inside! It also does not necessarily follow that all Social tenants default in rental payment and build up a large amount of arrears.
Under the new Universal Credit scheme, due to be rolled out throughout the UK by October 2017, one of the major problems that arose in the trials, was if Housing Benefit was paid direct to the tenant, there was a large proportion, who had a history of default. As a result, private landlords were very wary of accepting such people as tenants.
It is interesting to note that some 15% of local authority tenants do not have a bank account, which means that Housing Benefits cannot be paid by direct debit into their account but instead, payment would be made basically in the form of cash.
This gave little comfort to landlords and so arrangements can be made for Housing Benefit to be paid direct to the landlord, missing out the tenant and so effectively guaranteeing a non-default tenant in the future.
As an aside, with such guaranteed income and the availability of cheap finance to landlords, it is hoped that private landlords will take advantage of the cheap loans and increase their stock of properties which could ultimately become available to Housing Benefit tenants. This in turn would of course help to increase the number of social housing premises which may be available to the public at large and so enable the Government to improve its performance figures.
The vast majority of tenants for a landlord are of a private nature but this still does not minimise the risk of rental default. The ideal good tenant is one who pays rent on time and causes no damage to the property or furniture.
As far as damage is concerned, the tenant is required to place a deposit which, as you will know, the landlord must deposit and register with a recognised Deposit Scheme. This deposit is used as a security against damage to the property or furniture and is not intended to act as a replacement for potential rent arrears.
With this in mind, landlords may often require not only the main deposit, but also at least one month’s rental in advance in order to provide some form of protection against possible rent arrears.
Dependent upon the type of property and the length of the Rental period, it is sometimes advisable to take and hold three months’ rent in advance to protect against arrears, particularly bearing in mind the length of time and costs involved in removing a tenant from property for failure to pay. I suggest though that you discuss this with your legal advisers before putting it in place.
There are one or two associations that a landlord may join who each maintain a database on the history of tenants. Providing a prospective tenant has a record on those databases, then it is good for the landlord as all verifiable checks have already been completed. The only issue would be that the database is only as good as the information put into it.
Using these tips, you will be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and so end up finding a good tenant for yourself.