Problem tenants will always be out there, but there are certain steps that you as a landlord can take to avoid being caught out.
Always carry out a credit check on prospective tenants, this way you can make sure that the tenant will be able to pay the rent and doesn’t have any CCJ’s against their names or bad credit scores.
We always recommend obtaining a driving licence or passport photo identification, this is the best way to ensure your prospective tenant really is who they say they are.
If possible aim to obtain the last three months bank statements. This will show the prospective tenants true financial status and you will be able to see if the tenant can in fact afford the rent.
If the tenant works, always aim to obtain past pay slips as above this will give you the fuller picture and shows exactly what income the tenant has.
Employers references and past landlord references will also help you as a landlord get a different perspective on the tenant. There is nothing wrong with asking for these.
We always recommend having guarantors regardless of whether the tenant is in full employment or not.
As a guarantor, they should be based in the UK and ideally be a homeowner. This way if the tenant fails to make rental payments or leaves damages at the property, without leaving a forwarding address for them you will still have some re-course.
Always use a neutral third party to conduct both check in and check out. There are various companies that can provide a full inventory at reasonable prices, with some even providing video evidence as part of the package.
Having an inventory is key to making a claim on the deposit and avoiding any disputes. The National Landlord Association also provides an inventory service.
It is always worth bearing in mind that all the above information will also help you if the tenant leaves the property owing rent arrears. If you have bank details, work information or a guarantor this makes it so much easier to pursue the tenant for monies owing.
But remember… Prevention is better than cure!