Interview: Screening and How Not to Get Stuck with Tenants from Hell
A tenant from hell is someone who refuses to pay rent and damages your property. Although tenants from hell may always slip through the net you can protect yourself by employing an agent who will screen prospective tenants thoroughly with interviews, reference checks, home visits and good, old-fashioned gut instinct.
Avoiding the Tenants from Hell
Amy: Who would you say, Tracy, are the tenants from hell? What's the worst tenant you could encounter and how can you avoid getting that type of tenant?
Tracy: How do you avoid getting a terrible tenant? Obviously, referencing is key. So, that is a lot of what we do, we reference tenants and make sure they have a good credit reference, employment reference, landlord reference.
Some of them do slip through the net, they really do. They might give a friend's name and number as a landlord, it's easy to do.
We have had that done to us and it turned out to be a tenant who didn't pay his rent. Luckily, he didn't damage the property he just didn't pay his rent and we moved him on. But his reference was from his friend who was living in the property with him.
So, they can lie but references usually, 9 times out of 10, do work. You get an employment reference and a landlord reference.
Amy: And I find one of the biggest things you need in property if you are doing lettings is your gut instinct.
You go against that as a letting agent you are screwed.
Tracy: We interview everybody when they come through the door. What do you? Where do you work? How many kids have you got? Have you got dogs? Do you smoke? It's an endless list, like, 'My God, are you a police officer?'
Amy: But, it is getting a picture of that person. I reference in a very similar way. I want to know everything about them. And just because I know you may have had debt problems in the past doesn't mean I am going to exclude you from the tenancy.
The more honest and open you are about your circumstances... We'll find ways around it. I tend to find gut instinct... Like, you say, have a conversation, ask those questions.
Tracy: If somebody has been in a tenancy for 10 years then great. You know, you think, they're loyal and they are going to stay. But for someone who says, 'I was there for 6 months and there for 4 months and I was there for 3 months'. It doesn't stand well, does it in terms of moving forward and having a long-term tenancy?
Amy: So, that's a great tip to give to our viewers to look at the lengths of previous tenancies. Historic dealings with property and see if you can do a bit of investigation around that. And generally, if they've treated properties well in the past they're going to continue to do so.
Tracy: We've done home visits if we've been a little bit unsure, something is just a little bit niggly. And we will say, 'We need you to complete this form', or, 'We just need your ID, we'll just pop round and get it'.
Amy: That's a great tip.
Tracy: But we will have people say, 'Oh no, it's fine, I'll just drop it off'.
Amy: Not answering the door. That's a really good tip, though.
It's a similar way to how I used to work is I used to say, 'Bring in all your paperwork.' And, obviously, I work in the social marketplace so social tenants are generally used to bringing in every bit of ID and letters and they would turn up with carrier bags of stuff. And you can get a really good feel for a person and their life by having a look through this type of paperwork.
You could build a picture of how they live and how they will...
Tracy: All scrumpled up?
Amy: Yeah, you can watch them unfold it all and...
Tracy: Tea stains? We've been there.
Amy: We do the same job, don't we? So there are some really great tips there, for looking for the right tenant.