Prior screening of tenants prevents problems later

Renting out residential properties can be advantageous but it is not without risk. A tenant can neglect or damage a property, set up a cannabis nursery in it or cause so much nuisance that neighbours complain to the landlord.

Conversely, renting a property is also not without risk. The rent needs to be paid each month and it is of course important that the property is in good condition and there are no defects. Nor do you want to end up living next to someone who causes a nuisance.

The tenant and landlord enter into what is often a fairly long-term contract with each other. In such cases, it is good to know that you can trust each other and have faith in your common future. Many landlords contract out the rental to a manager or rent the property out via an estate agent or broker.

Thorough screening is essential and professionals can be a huge help here. Landlords naturally don’t want to be saddled with someone who ultimately cannot pay the rent and does a moonlight flit. Nor do landlords want a cannabis grower who could severely damage the property, leaving it damp and filthy once the cannabis has been harvested. Full checks on potential tenants can prevent a great deal of misery. Problems do arise of course and unfortunately cannot be ruled out completely. I am convinced that thorough and prudent preparation prior to concluding the tenancy agreement is absolutely vital.

Initial contact

The parties involved will come into contact with each other before the tenancy agreement is concluded. Potential tenants will get in touch when a property is put up for rent. You can then conduct an initial check can on them. Information can be obtained from public sources on the internet via searches by name (Google, Facebook or other social media). This enables you to separate the wheat from the chaff at an early stage. A brief phone call to potential tenants can also be a useful way of making their acquaintance.

Personal details

Potential tenants often view the property first, although the landlord is not always present on these occasions. This is an important opportunity for potential tenants and the estate agent or landlord to meet for the first time. If a potential tenant is interested in the property, they will need to provide more personal details. This includes ID, income details and a tenant reference letter. These things can all be checked. You can phone the employer and compare pay slips, whereby it is important to check the cumulative salary. It is easy to forge a single pay slip, but if several are requested this makes it more difficult to forge them all. This also applies if an annual income statement is requested. In addition to all these documents, it is also important to trust your instincts. And to talk to, for instance, the potential tenant’s employer and previous landlord. A couple of phone calls can prove whether the documents correspond to reality.

Selecting a tenant

If the information proves to be correct and the terms and conditions are met, the estate agent can propose the potential tenant to the owner/landlord. He or she is ultimately the person who decides whether to enter into a tenancy agreement with the tenant proposed by the estate agent. In general, the landlord will follow the advice of the estate agent and therefore needs to be able to rely on the screening that has been conducted.

In my job, I regularly come across cases in which landlords have ended up with poor tenants in many respects. This is sometimes due to landlords having arranged the rental themselves and only having conducted their own screening, but sometimes also because the broker has simply not conducted thorough checks on the tenant. Entering into a tenancy agreement with the ‘wrong’ type of tenant of a valuable asset can have far-reaching consequences. Quite apart from the cost and any damage to the property, contacts with this type of tenant are also often very difficult. Tenants have security of tenure, making it difficult to terminate the tenancy agreement. This should not be underestimated.

Over the past few years, I have come to know Interhouse as a party that screens tenants thoroughly. Interhouse does so using a detailed, professional screening workflow and fully comprehends its role as an estate agent in this process. Furthermore, Interhouse has access to professional tools, a wide network and many years of experience in screening tenants, generally leading to less suitable tenants being excluded. In addition, the well-publicised thorough screening of tenants ensures that any potential tenants with dubious intentions often show no interest in the properties Interhouse has on offer, or they pull out in time, before entering into a tenancy agreement, and deliberately seek out agents where they can rent a property (relatively) easily based on false information.

It is important to be well aware that the quality of a tenant is essential to a positive rental relationship and to the tenancy agreement running smoothly. Look before you leap!

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