The number of tenant evictions reached record levels last year as 37,739 tenants – public and private – were removed from properties. Overall, this is a sad and worrying trend but a number of these will be the result of problem tenants, which a landlord must do all they can to avoid. A thorough tenant reference check can save a landlord from a nightmare. The likelihood of finding a good tenant who will stick around is greatly increased with a little due diligence and research. Agents will offer this service, but often at quite a high rate (although some online agents such as Rentify offer free background checks). If you do want to conduct your own tenant reference check, here’s what you should do:
- You must get permission from the potential tenant
This can be a stipulation in the tenancy application form, which should be signed by both parties as a build up to the tenancy agreement.
- Always ask for more than one reference
If you are asking for a landlord reference, think about asking the penultimate landlord for a reference as well as the current landlord for one. The current landlord could have reasons to want this tenant to leave.
- Call their references
Check that a landlord reference isn’t just written by a friend of the tenant. Call them and ask about any properties they have available. You will be able to tell quite easily whether or not they are a legitimate landlord.
- Verify income and financial viability
The easiest way to verify income and financial independency is to ask for the potential tenant’s last three bank statements. Through these you can verify where they work, their salary, their current address and amount of rent they pay.
- Where do they work?
Look into the company they work for and make sure it is legitimate. If renting to a freelancer, ask for evidence of contracts that will provide income for the next six months.
- Meet them face to face
In all likelihood you will have met the tenant in question at a viewing but they may have made an blind offer from the advert. Always try to make sure you’ve met them face to face before anything is agreed and, if you have the option, trust your judgment. Peace of mind is very important when you are letting a property.
- Check the guarantor
Check with the land registry office to make sure any guarantors are homeowners.
Credit Card of future by Robert Scoblee is licensed and edited by Creative Commons.