Whether you like it or not, at some point in the lifetime of your buy to let property investment, you are likely to have a tenant who causes you problems. Whether it is delay a in payment of rent or non-payment of rent, or causing nuisance to other tenants and neighbors with noise. Other common issues you are likely to face are: damage to property, failure to tell you about needed repairs, keeping pets when pets are not allowed, carrying out illegal activities on your property, leaving without proper notice, subletting your property to meet rent and so on.
As much as we want it, there is no way to guarantee that a tenant will be trouble free. This is why carrying out proper tenant referencing is important. When you carry out proper checks for the tenants before accepting them into your property, you are minimizing the likelihood of having these issues.
In the first place, asking prospective tenants to complete an application form is a good way of finding out how serious they are about renting the property. A typical application form should include:
- Contact information, including mobile phones, landline and email
- Previous addresses going back up to three years
- Current address
- Utility bills that show proof of previous addresses such as gas, electricity and water bills
- Employment information
- Bank information
- Guarantor details
- Next of kin details
- Identification details, such as driving license or passport
- National insurance number or something similar
- Declaration of any county court judgment, pending or unfinished conviction or previous financial difficulty
The best way to run a referencing process is to make use of a referencing agent. They understand the best way to get the necessary information to find out the type of person your prospective tenant really is. It is possible to accept a reference directly from the prospective tenant. However, you need to be aware that some people have ways of getting falsified records. These records look very much like the original, so you need to ensure that the one you are holding is authentic. Even after accepting references from the prospective tenant, you should also do your own checks. For instance, you can write to the previous landlord at their own home to verify the information contained in the reference that you were given. You can also confirm the employment information given to you by making a hand-delivered request for a reference to the employers’ actual address. You can easily get this information by looking the company up online. For previous residence, you can check that the landlord on the record actually owns the property by checking them up on www.landregistry.gov.uk. On this same website, you can find out if the same landlord is the owner of the property that the tenant rented.
The bottom line is, even if you accept references directly from the prospective tenant, ensure that you do your own checks to ensure that the references provided are real and carry authentic information.