Good Landlording

Good Landlording

#2: How to select good tenants

April 17, 2024

These are the show notes for Episode 2 of Good Landlording. This week, Richard and Suzanne discuss the important topic for landlords of how to select good tenants.

In this episode, they go through the processes that they both use to select good tenants, sharing practical tips about how they go about selecting good tenants the right way, without falling foul of the law. This includes the tenant application forms they use, the rules on holding deposits, what selection criteria you can and can't use for tenants from a legal perspective, and how to vet tenants. 

Next week, Richard and Suzanne broach the big subject of letting agents in the first of three episodes on letting agents: GL #3: Guide to selecting good letting agents.

What we cover in Episode #2 on tenant selectionTips to select the right tenants1. Are the tenants right for your property?2. Choose long-term tenants3. When is it reasonable to accept or refuse pets?4. Are the applicants reasonable with good communication skills?5. Why landlords should be involved in tenant selectionWhy it's important to have a tenant application formHolding deposit rules How to vet tenants What the law says about selection criteria for choosing tenantsGolden nuggetCredits

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Tips to select the right tenants

Suzanne and Richard discussed affordability and red and green flags in Episode 1 - What makes a good tenant?

The next step is to select the right tenants from your shortlist of applicants who have all qualified as good tenants on paper. If you are looking for tenants yourself using an online platform, you should pre-screen tenants for suitability before arranging viewings, so you can weed out time-wasters.

Here are 5 practical tips to help you choose the right tenants.

1. Are the tenants right for your property?

Tenants might be good on paper, but they need to be right for the property. For instance, a family for a family sized house and a single person or a couple for a bedsit.

2. Choose long-term tenants

Long-term tenants are great for landlords as they help reduce void periods, the cost and hassle of preparing the property for letting and the process of finding new tenants.

Offering 2-3 year fixed terms with rent review clauses is a good option. However, be aware that landlords can't use section 21 during a fixed term, unless there is a break clause, which means that if there is a problem with the tenants during the fixed term, the landlord would need to use section 8 to evict the tenants.

>> The Independent Landlord: How to obtain possession under Section 8

>> The Independent Landlord: How to serve valid Section 21 Notice

3. When is it reasonable to accept or refuse pets?

The question of whether to allow pets is tricky in flats. It comes down to reasonableness. Whereas it might be reasonable to allow a dog in family house (not an HMO) with a garden, it's riskier in a small flat.

>> The Independent Landlord: The current rules for tenants who want to keep a pet

4. Are the applicants reasonable with good communication skills?

Good tenants aren't just tenants who can afford the rent. The relationship will be more harmonious if they are reasonable and have good communication skills. For instance, they won't call up asking for the landlord to change a lightbulb (that's their responsibility anyway), and are more likely to report maintenance issues such as slow water leaks before they escalate into a major repair because of the damage from the leak.

5. Why landlords should be involved in tenant selection

Even if landlords use letting agents, we both recommend being involved in tenant selection, by meeting the shortlisted candidates either in person, or via Zoom. This helps landlords get the measure of the applicants, to see whether they'll be good tenants in practice.

Why it's important to have a tenant application form