Getting a reliable tenant

SELECTING the right tenant is probably the most important task a landlord ever has to do and it has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Time was when a glowing written reference from an employer or previous landlord was all the guarantee that was needed.

Technology has made the selection process easier and more difficult. More difficult because of the amount of identity fraud, easier because of credit checking facilities. Today it is easy for a potential tenant with a bad credit history to write himself a reference using an assumed name and give the number of a disposable, pay-as-you phone mobile phone for the landlord to follow up the reference unaware that he is in fact calling the potential tenant.

Increasingly landlords are using credit checking agencies to find out about how reliable prospective tenants are. A successful landlord and thus eliminate probably 95 per cent of all letting problems through careful vetting of tenants. While the vast majority of tenants are honest and decent, a tiny proportion falls into the category of people with a bad credit history, who will never be in a position to buy property and try to con their way into a tenancy.

There are 150,000 possession hearings a year when landlords try to evict unsuitable tenants, yet these unsuitable tenants could have been indentified and avoided by using a reputable credit checking agency. This is what Wardhaugh Property Management, with branches in Forfar, Arbroath and Perth does for all its landlords.

Credit checks will throw up any court judgements against a potential tenant, poor income to rent ratio, breaks in employment and poor credit scores. These can mount up through missed payments on credit card loans, car repayments or mobile phone bills.

There is a fee for each credit check undertaken and some landlords ask the potential tenant to pay for this because

They will refuse to pay if they know they are going to fail

Tenants tend to react more quickly to requests for information when they have invested in the process

An administration fee acts as a holding deposit which stops tenants applying for multiple properties and secures their interest in one property.

Landlords cannot discriminate against tenants on the grounds of race, religion, gender or disability but he is allowed to discriminate on the merits of the person applying for a tenancy on his financial background and ability to meet the bills.

Landlords who skip credit checks can run into all kinds of problems. It can take six months to evict an unsuitable tenant during which time there could be no rent paid. And it’s not unheard of for landlords to be persuaded to take six month’s rent in advance only to find their rural property used to grow cannabis.

Wardhaugh Property Management carries out a five-year credit and identity check on every potential tenant to safeguard the landlords they represent in addition to a free rent guarantee.