Most investors are all too familiar with the horror stories of what can go wrong when you have the misfortune to land a problem tenant. But the best way to avoid such nightmares – and thus maximize the returns on your investment – is to try and select a good tenant in the first place. Whether or not you decide to leave the tenant selection process in the hands of a property manager, it is sensible to have a solid set of vetting criteria in place.
When it comes to vetting potential tenants, landlords should:
- Require them to fill out a detailed application form.
- Get both professional and personal references and thoroughly verify them.
- Request at least three months bank statements.
- Use a credit referencing service.
- Get extra information – eg: a utility bill in the tenant’s name.
- Ask them to show evidence of assets.
- Speak to their current real estate agency and, if possible, some previous landlords to establish their rental history.
- Call their current employer and, if possible, a past employer to establish their employment record.
- Ask for a copy of their passport and/or driver’s license.
- Secure a guarantor – eg: a parent.
- Check tenancy databases to see if they have been listed as a bad tenant.
- Always meet them in person to assess them and get a feel of who they are.
Essentially, you should be looking for a tenant who is in stable employment and has a regular income; has a solid rental history; and who is reliable, diligent, responsible and house-proud. Finally, it is also a good idea not to rush into a decision too quickly… An extra week or two of rent might pale in significance compared to a bad tenant decision made in a hurry.