Give Prospective Tenants The Benefit Of Doubt At Your Own Risk

RiskA landlord can never be sure how good or bad a tenant is going to be until they actually move in and take residency for a few months. But there are certain steps a landlord can take to ensure they’re minimizing their risk of harbouring poor tenants E.g. getting a credit check. I personally believe that one of the greatest tools to identity a rogue tenant is by using gut instinct.

I’m sure a lot of landlords have shown prospective tenants around their property and thought, “Hmm I’m not sure I want these punks living here”

Unless I’m completely comfortable with my prospective tenants, I don’t bother wasting time on trying to convince myself they’ll result in being good tenants. Based on my own experience I can confirm that my gut instinct makes more sense than the sales pitch any tenant has to offer. I’ve given people the benefit of doubt before and it’s always turned out sour.

Here’s an example of an uncertain landlord. This comment was left on my blog last week:

i am about to let my one bed flat to a seemingly nice young couple. they have paid the deposit (minus £80 as that was all they had on them at the time)and will pay the first months rent upfront when they move in next week as agreed by both parties. i did an NLA reference check and was advised to get a guarantor however it was suggested the guarantor earn £30,000 a year. the tenants advised me that although they could get a guarantor they didn’t earn that amount of money. they seem a very genuine couple however i am a bit unsure about renting the property to them. when i emailed them yesterday about how much they needed to bring when moving in the girl said she had the first months rent but was going to pay the £80 balance from the deposit the following week. i was a little put out as she hasn’t moved in yet and i thought she would have had the courtesy to ask me first if that was okay. they are going to purchase some of the current tenants furniture which is why they are a bit short and said they could pay the £80 balance when they move in as agreed and then pay the tenant the following week which he is in agreement with. however i am just unsure as to whether or not to proceed. the tenant check informed me that the girl was on a 3 months trial where she works although she has assured me it will be permanent. (she works for tesco) the guy is also on a contract although it is on-going. she did mention that they got into some financial problems before but managed to clear this. i don’t doubt their intentions and i know they do desperately want the flat as they really like it. part of me feels i should go with my gut instinct and give them the benefit of the doubt but another part of me says to try and get someone else. what would you advise?

What would you do in that situation? Would you give the tenant the benefit of doubt, or go with your gut instinct?

I wouldn’t think twice about rejecting them. My reasons being:

  • They’re already £80 short, before even the tenancy has started. That’s not a great start.
  • The landlord already admitted she felt “unsure” – I would go with that instinct; the landlord will genuinely feel better knowing she has tenants that she’s completely sure about.
  • As the landlord said, the couple didn’t even have the courtesy to ask whether being £80 short was okay or not. That’s not only rude, but it’s also worrying.
  • The tenants have a history of financial problems

In this particular example, I think there are way too many signs of danger. Granted, the couple could genuinely turn out to be good tenants, but it’s a risk I wouldn’t be willing to take because I know I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking the risk.

Common mistake landlords make

A lot of landlords make the fatal mistake of accepting the first tenant that comes along because they want to fill the vacant property as quickly as possible. While that seems to make the most financial sense, it can actually have the opposite affect.

Problematic tenants can be expensive in so many ways, so it’s best to avoid them completely. I’d personally rather keep my property vacant a little longer if it means I’ll get tenants that I’ll feel completely comfortable with. I can swallow paying a month’s mortgage out of my own pocket because that WILL be cheaper than harbouring problem-tenants.

Have you taken a chance with a tenant? How did it work out?

Just remember, taking risks can have its consequences…

Unprotected Sex

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3 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Aunty P 3rd March, 2010 @ 12:33

I'd get credit checks and follow their advice AND go my instinct every time.

Let a property to a bankrupt with a guarantor a long time ago and he was fine during the tenancy except he painted the flat in garish colours without asking first but promised to return it to the original before leaving. I wasn't too worried as we had a deposit. But he didn't pay his last months rent so stitched us up at the end. It was a good lesson...

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Sam 19th March, 2010 @ 12:26

The last and final time I ignored my gut instinct, the tenant burnt down the flat within weeks of moving in. Never again. Regardless of great refs, credit checks and plenty of dosh - now I will listen to my instinct no matter how insane it may seem!

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Bryan 25th March, 2010 @ 11:24

My gut instinct has never been wrong, oh ok maybe once because she was pretty, but nuts. Problem is i don't always follow my gut instinct.....Another problem tenant leaves today and i think i'm going to listen much harder.

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