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Picking a tenant

This information only applies in England.

Getting the right tenants and establishing a professional relationship with them is a fundamental part of building a successful buy to let business.

Whether you are using a letting agent to advertise the property or whether you are marketing the property yourself, when a prospective tenant is interested in the property, you will need to check whether they will be a ‘good’ tenant who will respect the property and pay the rent.

Remember that even good tenants can turn bad due to their personal circumstances - they may lose their job, be involved in a matrimonial split or even become ill.

Initial practical steps you should take when considering a potential tenant include the following:

  • Obtain a credit report, this will give an indication of whether the applicant is a responsible person financially.
  • Obtain references, these can be supplied by the applicant’s bank, a former landlord and their employer. You need to know if the applicant is good at paying the bills on time and whether they have ever been evicted from a property.

Consider using a letting agency to save you the time and labour of finding a suitable tenant. Ask for recommendations from fellow landlords and make sure you consider the additional costs associated with using letting agencies.

Landlords are also required to check the immigration status of prospective tenants in England only. You should make a copy of a tenant’s original documents that permit them to live in the UK and keep this copy while they’re your tenant and for a year after. For more information, read Right to rent.

When you are considering potential tenants, remember that it is illegal for landlords to discriminate against tenants on the basis of: gender, sexuality, race, disability, gender reassignment, religion, pregnancy or maternity.

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