How to spot a bad tenant on a viewing

Landlords, Letting

Firstly, as I write this blog a million things are going through my head right now, we have had great, good, bad and terrible tenants at the company in the past and I have learned a huge amount about how to spot good and bad tenants.

The devil is in the detail as I have mentioned before in previous blogs, it is all in preparation and here I am going to give you some warning signs or red flags you might notice before signing a tenancy agreement.

When choosing a tenant, the paperwork is very important and getting a tenant approved for Rent Guarantee Insurance is also very important, but also as a landlord, you need to meet them and rely on your gut instincts. We meet people every single day in our various lives so you will have a good idea of who you like and why, trust your gut because once a tenant has a signed contract and the keys to your buy to let property, they are wearing the trousers more than you in the UK as per law.

However, if you do get a bad tenant, there are ways that you can steer them out of your property without things getting ugly and going to court, providing that they are paying still.

If you are currently having issues right now, my advice is to change your attitude toward the situation, don’t blame yourself or anyone else as there isn’t much you can do now, but you need to deal with the situation that is in front of you.

So, look at it as a great challenge, experience and learning curve which may cost you a bit of money but make sure you handle this challenge effectively, learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is the financial and mental price of the learning experience.”]

‘The Red Flags’

Property Changes/Requests

This is not always a bad thing, some tenants want the carpets cleaned, the property cleaned to their standard and a few things. This is a good sign, this means that they want a nice hygienic place to house themselves (and their families) and will generally take pride in the property. You should be investing in your tenants on cleanliness, this is not a sign that a tenant is difficult, but a sign that they are great tenants.

However, there is a line:

If a tenant starts requesting, a full repaint, new appliances, new windows and putting in every single request imaginable that you should do as a landlord, then this is a major red flag.

When you conduct viewings on your property, the property is in a certain ‘state’ and hopefully a decent state. I always tell landlords to make sure the property is a 7/10. The walls are nice and clean, the property is clean as well as the oven. No good tenant worth their sort is going to want to live in a pigsty, however, there is a line and sometimes we are up against the demanding types of human beings who transpire to be tenants in this situation becoming too difficult and unreasonable for a landlord to fathom. Use your gut here, look at the property with your own set of eyes, and don’t be tight (I know you are running a business where costs matter) but so does service and the type of tenant you get.

But there is a line, use your judgement to know if you are dealing with a tenant that is being difficult vs a tenant that has a valid right to their requests.

The Story

A good tenant should have a straight story, usually, the truth is quite simple and quite easy to explain because the truth is the truth.

When tenants are portraying rather large stories or reasons why they cannot do certain things or need certain things, then these types of tenants are usually too much aggravation.

Like anything in life, a square peg should fit into a square hole as does a good tenant fit into a competitively priced, clean rental property, it should be an easy fit and not complicated.

Tenants will say anything to get what they want and as I say to my team, every tenant is a nice person if they want a property, but once they move in that could change.

Be wary, and hear the tenant out but if the story doesn’t add up, then beware as they could be doing something dodgy or using the property for something else.

e.g., I am viewing the property for my cousin and his wife.

Why isn’t your cousin, his wife and family here? If I wanted to rent a place, I wouldn’t allow my own cousin to view it for me, it has to suit me and I want to know what I am viewing. It also shows a lack of responsibility potentially for the cousin which is a major red flag for me.

Large Upfront Payments

Some tenants will look to pay large amounts of money upfront to secure the property, such as 6 months or one year upfront. Which is fine, but why?

There must be a good reason for doing so because it doesn’t make sense to give your landlord all the money upfront. If I am a tenant and pay one years of rent upfront and the boiler breaks, I am nervous about to what my landlord is going to do, I have already paid him.

Some tenants have a genuine reason for paying upfront, they might not be able to prove their income due to starting a new company and they might have savings, they could have transferred from a different country and don’t have a line of credit in the UK, plus do not have a suitable guarantor that can guarantee the rent for a Rent Guarantee Insurance. But again, trust your gut and the person that is in front of you.

Going back to ‘the story’ above, ask the tenant why and ask yourself if the story has flaws or holes. Has the tenant got bad credit and what is the bad credit and why?

You can still conduct a credit check and reference a tenant that wants to pay upfront to see their story.

Does NOT want a Credit Check or doesn’t want to provide documents

The huge red flag here! Why? Why? Why?

If a tenant doesn’t want to be open and clear with you regarding their situation, past or documents then I would 100% not be moving them into a property.

It means they are hiding something which is not a good trait in life, let alone renting a property. I don’t think I need to write anything more on this one.

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