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5 tips to avoid the tenant from Hell

The internet was agog this week when a thread on Reddit went viral. Hordes of landlords had responded to a question posed on the social media site asking for tenants from Hell stories.

The thread went ballistic with thousands of comments and tales of obnoxious, belligerent, unreasonable, and downright disgraceful behaviour by tenants. This ranged from dead fish buried in the walls to completely trashing the property and leaving behind huge rent arrears.

Such was the interest in the discussion it was picked up by at least two major UK newspapers which delighted in reproducing the more outrageous comments.

The new normal?

In all likelihood, many readers of this blog can relate their own tales of woe from nightmare tenants.

Nowadays, it does seem few people are offended, or even surprised when stories of extreme tenants surface. The behaviour is almost shrugged off.

Yet, to the landlord involved, nightmare tenants can cause huge amounts of stress, frustration, and financial loss.

Unfortunately, human behaviour being what it is, it is almost inevitable there will be problems at some pint. The question is, how can a landlord ensure the chances of being a victim of the tenant from Hell are as small as possible?

To help, here are our five tips on how to avoid your new tenant turning into a nightmare:

1. Ask for landlord references

Pretty much a no-brainer you would have thought. But, often, references are asked for but not followed up.

Ask for references from previous landlords. This is a sensible precaution. But try and go further back than the current landlord who may give a glowing recommendation just to be rid of them.

If you can go back three years / three landlords with no reported problems, the likelihood is you have found an excellent tenant.

First time renters will not, of course, be able to provide such references. In these cases speaking to the parents may give a good idea of the character of the prospective tenant.

If they can't, or won't, provide landlord references they should be crossed off your shortlist immediately.

2. Work references and ID

Unless you are taking in DSS tenants you should always ask for an employer’s reference. This helps to confirm employment. Also, ask to see a current wage slip to reassure yourself they can afford the rent.

Make sure you see some photo identification. A passport or driving licence will be fine but it is also a good idea to ask for a recent utility bill and bank card.

Also, remember you have a legal obligation to demand the tenant prove they have the right to rent in the UK.

3. Run a credit check

As a private landlord, you cannot run a credit check without the tenant’s permission. That permission must be in writing.

Although adverse credit in the past may not be an indicator of present liquidity, a number of defaults and recent CCJs should raise some red flags about the tenant’s capability of paying the rent.

4. Trust your own instinct

Not very scientific and completely subjective. But first impressions do count. Rely on your own instinct.

If you are uncomfortable about the person’s demeanour, or just get a nagging doubt about them, even if everything else is perfect, you are entitled to refuse a tenancy. It's your business, you need to do everything you can to protect it.

5. Find a reliable agent to manage the property and find the tenant for you

This can remove so much of the stress involved with finding a tenant and then making sure the rent is collected. It removes the hassle of managing the property, dealing with maintenance and all the legal necessities.

Of course, no matter what you do there is always the chance a rogue tenants can slip through the net. The nicest person in the world can turn into Demolition Man once they have a key in their hands.

However, despite the evidence of the Reddit thread, nightmare tenants are a rarity. By following the few simple tips we’ve outlined here you can reduce the risk of inadvertently housing a tenant from Hell even further.

Makeurmove.co.uk provide a full tenant management service tenant management service including rent collection, finding tenants, legal compliance and much more. For more information on our comprehensive services to landlords call us on 0333 8000 210.

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