Forging a positive relationship with your tenants will have a big impact on your life as a landlord. In this post, we bring you nine top tips for finding and picking the best tenants around. Discrimination As a landlord it is your responsibility to treat all prospective tenants equally. For example, you cannot request a credit check against a non-EU applicant if you wouldn’t ask for the same from an EU applicant. However, this is your property and you have a right to choose your tenants outside your human rights obligations. Questionnaires and InsuranceThis is connected to discrimination. If you want to get important details from all your applicants, it is best to give them a questionnaire. Ask them about their driving license, criminal records or unspent convictions. It will seem less interrogative on paper, and you can then hand these details to insurance companies. Not knowing these things could make it difficult to make a claim at a later date. References and Credit Checks References are part and parcel of a tenant’s application. As a landlord it is strongly recommended you follow up on references, including employer references, to get a character profile of your applicant. Credit checks will help you judge the applicant’s financial stability, especially given the commitment involved. As always, the more detail and time you put into this part of the process, the better the feel you will get for the applicant. Contact Time Don’t just email applicants. Take the time to phone them and meet them face to face. It will give you a far more comprehensive look at their character, and you cannot expect to make an informed decision without spending time with all your potential tenants. You will also be able to check IDs and utility bills to certify that the applicant is who they say they are. Spending time together will also expose hidden antagonism or aggression, or even a simple personality clash, that wouldn’t otherwise be visible from an email. Remember, this could be a relationship that lasts many years. Best to make the best decision at the earliest time possible. ‘Benefits’ Tenants? Many landlords have said that housing those on benefits can be very difficult, with many tenants suffering from circumstances that cause them to fall into arrears. As always, you cannot discriminate against a tenant because they are on benefits, however you do have the right to choose a tenant who is more able to pay their rent every month. Age GroupsDependent on your local area and property, you will have a choice of tenant demographic. When it comes to finding tenants, a general rule of thumb is that the older the tenant, the better the tenant. For two reasons. Firstly, they have the financial stability to set your mind at ease. Secondly, they are more likely to want longer tenancies and treat a property as if it were their own. If you are close to a university, students can demand higher rents but don’t take great care of the property. Meanwhile, families will get a good rent to length of tenancy ratio, but they may need to move out when their children increase in size or number! Retirees or older couples who are downsizing will likely settle in one place for a number of years, giving you the best chance of a consistent tenancy. Big Movers Find out how many times the applicants have moved in the last six months, year or two years. The bigger the number of moves, the smaller the chance of a successful tenancy, especially with younger people. If you have a gut instinct that the applicant won’t be suitable for the property, or if the numbers just don’t add up, trust yourself to find another tenant. Timing Getting a tenant to move in can be time-consuming, and it can feel like every day counts when your property is in a void period. However, the process needs to progress as necessary, and you shouldn’t be inclined to cut corners, even if you’re given the opportunity. For example, a tenant comes to you offering many months’ rent up front, with the hope of moving in tomorrow. No sane landlord would take the money – you’d be setting yourself up for a fall later on. But even if the tenant fits the mould, this doesn’t mean that an even better one, with better financial security, professionalism and personal hygiene isn’t just around the corner. You don’t want to let a good tenant slip out of your grasp, but don’t underestimate the power of waiting. Money As in any walk of life, money talks and money matters. Always take a deposit and, if the tenant can’t offer one, don’t let them live in your property. Ensure their employer reference is solid, and doesn’t allude to the tenant jumping ship in the coming months or, even worse, getting the sack! If you are having trouble sourcing the best tenants for your property, please contact your local CJ Hole office today, who are more than happy to help with your lettings needs. Plus, for advice on writing a fool-proof inventory prior to your new tenants moving in, click here.