Posted by Admin - 28/10/2015


Screening tenants is a subject we are often asked about, it is art as well as science.  There isn’t a sure fire way of getting it right but you can certainly stack the odds in your favour.

My background is as a private landlord, one of my partners is a ‘through and through’ agency landlord and we get into lively debates on a number of property subjects.  When we were designing 9yds this is one of the areas that got the most debate.

We ended up on agreeing on two key points:

  • A formal reference is necessary (a tenant is 7 times more likely to go into arrears if they have not been vetted)
  • Having and maintaining a direct relationship pays dividends in that it is much harder to abuse a property or landlord when you know the person who owns the property

The 9yds business model includes both; all tenants are fully referenced and all tenants will have met the landlord.

So how do you go about it?

You can carry out internet searches that will suggest a whole plethora of complex checks.  Review 6 months bank statements looking for things like gambling addiction, contact not the current landlord (who wants rid of the tenant) but the previous one, look on tenant blacklisting sites, visit the tenant at their home with their current landlord to get to know them.

I would suggest that none of the above are pragmatic solutions in today’s world, the time and energy you spend would be much better spent in other areas.

This is my 3 step formula to vetting tenants and the one that is built into 9yds membership:

  1. Use a robust referencing service which includes employer and landlord referencing
  2. Landlords tend to be smart (if you’re not, find a good agent!)  Ensure you meet the tenant and have a conversation, get to know the person, use your instincts, ask searching but polite questioning to see if you find convincing answers or someone trying to avoid your questions
  3. Buy a rent and legal protection product so that if it all goes wrong it will not be your problem

My simple process assumes that you will get the basics right like checking the identity of the tenant and will have adequate landlord insurance.

There are people out there, very astute people, who are masters in their business.  They run brothels, cannabis farms, sub-let properties and will even steal your identity.  They will pass the checks (or at least the person whose identity they use will).

Happily the chances of this happening to you are approximately nil.

But, the chances of your tenant going into arrears are about 33%.

That’s what insurance is for.  Take the advice above and stack the odds in your favour before the tenancy starts and during it.