Our 8 tips on how to find good tenants for your rental property:
1. Follow the Law
Landlords must treat all potential tenants equally. The system is designed to prevent discrimination against certain classes of people in any activity related to housing. In short, you cannot discriminate based on race and colour, national origin, religion, sex, families with children, disability.
2. Choose a Tenant With Good Credit
Look for a tenant who is financially responsible. If they are responsible for paying their bills and on time, there is a strong chance they will pay their rent on time and be responsible for your property. Getting a credit check has a fee, and sometimes landlords ask their applicants to pay the credit check fee as well. Checking a tenant’s finances is a two-step process:
3. First Verify Income
- Check their income is sufficient to cover the monthly rent
- Ask for copies of their bank statements and pay slips
- Call their employer directly to confirm their employment, length of employment, attendance record and monthly earnings.
4. Check Credit History
- Do they have a history of paying their bills on time?
- Check their income to debt ratio.
- Even if their income is sufficient, you have to factor in how much debt they have.
- Look for county court judgments, bankruptcies or prior evictions
- Perform a Criminal Background Check
The criminal record is a public record and can be viewed at various courts. This check will turn up both serious and minor offences. You will need the tenant’s name and date of birth to run one. Keep in mind that those with a criminal record may try to falsify this information, so make sure to check a valid ID to verify that they are who they say they are.
It would be best to hire a reputable tenant screening company to perform this check for you. It can often be combined with the credit check.
5. Look at the Tenant’s Rental History
If possible, you should talk to at least two of the tenant’s previous landlords to check if the applicant was a problem tenant. There is a possible option that the current landlord may want to get rid of the tenant and may not be so honest.
6. Questions You Should Ask:
- Did the tenants pay their rent on time
- What was the reason for the move?
- Was the tenant evicted for non-payment of rent or for breaking the landlord’s rules?
- Did the tenant give the necessary notice
- Was the property kept in good condition
- Did they cause any damage to the property?
- Were they respectful to their neighbours?
- Were they demanding?
Of course, if the applicant is a first-time tenant, a student or a recent graduate, they may not have a rental history. In this case, you need to require a guarantor.
7. Choose a Tenant Who Is Stable
Check the tenant’s prior addresses and employment history on the application form. Do they move or switch jobs often? If they move often, this pattern is likely to continue and you will soon have a vacancy on your hands again. If they have not shown consistent employment, they may not be able to afford the apartment in a few months and you will be left starting your tenant search from scratch or dealing with an eviction.
8. Trust Your Instincts
You can do all the screening in the world, but sometimes your instincts are the best judge of character. You may feel that there is something off about a tenant who otherwise looks good on paper, only later to find that the tenant has been using someone else’s identity to apply for the apartment. Trust your screening, but do not ignore your gut feelings.