Here are some tips to help you identify possible bad tenants and avoid them before they sign a lease, should you decide not to use an agency. You know that once a tenant occupies your property, it can be time-consuming and possibly costly to evict a bad tenant.

You can avoid becoming a victim of damaged property or late or unpaid rent by taking the following steps in selecting your tenants.

  1. Screen your tenants thoroughly

It is very important to screen your tenants thoroughly before renting out your property to them. You can do this by yourself or with the help of a letting agent. A good, professional and registered letting agent (a member of a government

recognised scheme such as the property ombudsman) will conduct screening on the following:

  • Reference check
  • Employment checks
  • ID checks

You can do the same should you have the time to do so. In checking the references submitted by your tenants, always ensure you follow up the persons listed by the tenant and concur with your instincts whether the information provided is genuine.

  1. Take proper inventory

This is your initial line of defence against any tenant damaging your property. You should take proper inventory of the contents of your property as well as their conditions before the tenancy commences. The most ideal way to take inventory is to hire an independent person to do the inspection.

In order to rely on the inventory during dispute, it is better an independent and reputable person conducts the inventory rather than yourself. Please note not all agencies do inventories as a matter of course. For instance, we use inventories provided by the landlord; otherwise, we use photographic evidence as an inventory of how the property looked before the prospective tenant moved in.

  1. Make regular inspections

If you plan to manage your property yourself, regular visits must be with the consent of your tenants. This is usually specified in most AST’s (tenancy agreements) you and your tenant would have signed.

Normally should you find your property somewhat untidy or some unreported damage, a polite conversation and follow up email and inspection usually is all that is needed to bring everything back on track.

Note that some tenants do not like hassling landlords and genuinely feel that not reporting damage they perceive as minor would be appropriate as they don’t want to annoy landlords over what they feel are petty maintenance issues, even if you don’t agree.

Enforce your rights as the landlord

If you have performed all the necessary steps required to let out your property to a potential tenant, then it is prudent to be proactive and enforce your terms in the agreement. Generally, following up on what has been agreed in writing is good protocol. Especially getting tenants responses by email, if evidence is ever needed.

Make sure your tenancy agreement is comprehensive, robust, and legitimate

Tenancy agreements are essential in bringing together your relationship with your tenant in a legally binding manner. It states the terms and conditions of usage of your property by the tenant as well as what the landlord is required to do.

Any future occurrence of bad landlord-tenant relationships could be averted by having a strong tenancy agreement in the first instance.

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