How do you pick a perfect tenant?

Landlords, Lettings

Many landlords tell me about their horror stories when it comes to tenants. There are countless times that I have heard of landlords telling me that they had a nightmare with their last tenants and now they are selling because they cannot deal with the aggravation of renting their property out again.

I have a buy to let portfolio myself and have been running my business with a current portfolio in June 2023 of over 160+ managed properties, we seldom get issues, if we do it is usually for a valid reason that can be anticipated before a tenant moves in and it is always to do with the preparation.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. I would like to slightly adjust that to…’fail to prepare properly, then prepare to fail.’

Any good house, business or produce will start with a good foundation. If you are a farmer, you cannot reap good, juicy, and sweet fruit if you sow your seeds on bad soil. The same is true for the buy to let market too.

However, let me encourage you if you are one of the landlords above. Failure is feedback which equates into pain. If we learn from our pain and remain positive in our approach to learn more, then we can drive our successes.

Anyway, enough of my wisdom for this blog, I am going to delve into how you would lay the foundations for a perfect tenant.

Pigsties attract Pigs

Clients and team members of mine that have known me for years, know that this is a saying I have come up with. Why would you rent your property out in a bad condition and expect to attract a great tenant?

It is the equivalent to turning up to a restaurant on a first date dressed in a ripped tracksuit, unkempt and smelling as though you have been out on the street for a week. You set yourself up to fail and if the date ends up going well, you have wonder what the other person looks like.

If you rent your property out with marks on the walls, dirty carpet, ripped wallpaper and it being dirty, smelling and unkept then why do you think you are going to attract a good, clean and model tenant. It doesn’t make any sense.

As a landlord, you are providing a service and marketing a property in this type of condition is saying something about you as a landlord. If you cannot afford to do a property up to a respectable level and also offer it out at a rental price that reflects the quality, then you should probably sell the property, get out of the game because there is a high chance that it will go sour and you will be moaning about rental properties and horror tenants for years to come.

It is really not rocket science, ‘if you rent a pigsty then expect to attract a pig!’


I have said many times before that we are in the smart era, gone are days in the 1990’s where tenants would walk into an agency and ask what rental properties they have and drive round on a whim to trust an agent’s judgement for their next rental property. This could mean that a tenant wastes their time.

Most tenants will be on their smartphones looking for where the next rental properties are, which are on the portals.

Exactly like my dating analogy, you need to market yourself properly if you want to find yourself a date.

If you go it alone or use an agency, my advice is to get the marketing right and providing the place is in a good condition, then this is the easy part. Take a look at my blog on whether you should be using an online agent to save money and do it yourself or a high street agency, like us. How much is a letting agent? | Keystones Property (

Use a good quality camera or even better, get professional photos done. If you are renting the property again in the years to come, you can keep using the same photos, therefore, the investment of a professional photographer would be about £100 including a floorplan and you have it for the lifetime of the property.

The portals, make sure you are using a company that advertises on at least 2 of the main properties’ portals, don’t go with a company that only uses their website. Make sure that your property is advertised on Rightmove plus Zoopla or On the Market. At this moment in time, these are the main portals in the UK where most of the tenants congregate.

The important factor here with the marketing aspect is casting your net far and wide so that you attract a volume of tenants for the funnelling process so that the viewing is only a handful of tenants, but the quality of this handful is good.


I have said this so many times before, don’t get greedy as a landlord.

Think about this logically, even if your property is done up to the nines. Why would a tenant (who is effectively chucking money down the drain with paying your mortgage) want to pay over and above the odds for your rental property.

The only reason that they would do this is because they have something wrong with them, like a CCJ, skeletons in the closet and they have probably viewed many properties and keep getting rejected for these properties because they are going to good tenants with good jobs and more stability.

Think about it?

The reason that someone will want to pay over and above the competition for your property is usually (not always) because they can’t get anything else within the same condition that is cheaper.

The minute you price your property higher than your competition is the minute you are playing a riskier game, just beware.

If you price your property competitively in the marketplace, then you will attract the bulk volume of the good tenants in the market (providing you get the other points right).

This doesn’t have to be rocket science, just don’t get greedy.

If the going rate of rent for your three bedroom house in Romford is £1600 PCM and your property is a nice condition, decent size and location compared to your competition, then price it at £1600 PCM. Don’t price it at £1700 or £1800 PCM because you will not catch as many tenants in your net.

A lot of landlords think if I price it high, tenants will bait me down. Yes, some might, but most won’t even see your property or enquire about it because it is out of their budget.

Remember what I said about us being in the smart era, why is a good tenant going to get out of bed to see your property at £1700 or £1800 PCM if they can only afford £1600 PCM and there are 3 other properties at £1600 PCM. You are being silly and setting yourself up for failure here.


Renting a property out to tenants like most of the finer things in life is not a complicated task, it is a process. People overcomplicate it because they take high mortgages, they get greedy, or they see what the Jones’ are getting for their properties.

My approach is simple, boring and pragmatic.

The reason that you have a buy to let is for a pension, to have an appreciating asset where you have a tenant paying for your mortgage over a 20-30 year period that eventually is paid off so that you own the asset using the banks money as leverage with a tenant for it. It is a great idea and a great setup for you to earn money over the long term.

Take a look at my blog about How to find a good tenant | Keystones Property ( which will be the follow up from this.

If you do have any questions, get in touch with me as we manage lots of properties and have experience renting a lot too on 01708909100 or [email protected]

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