Vetting Tenants: A Simplified Guide

If you’re going to be a successful landlord, one of the most important parts of your job is going to be vetting any potential tenants. After all, these are the people you’re going to be entrusting your property to – you need to know that they can be trusted with what effectively constitutes your entire financial future.

This reality leads many landlords to, frankly, go a little too far when it comes to vetting their tenants. It strays from “being careful about my property” into “totally invading someone’s personal life”. If you stick too clearly to the “rules”, then you could wind up casting aside many people who would have made perfectly good tenants, just because they couldn’t jump through your ever-heightening hoops.

Vetting a tenant shouldn’t be a complex procedure. It’s part procedural, and part gut instinct. If you have invested in a property like The Star residences or are finally contemplating handing over the keys to your beloved fixer-upper, then yes, you’re going to want to ensure your investment will be cared for. That’s a given. Yet you can still do that, without violating someone’s privacy or potentially costing yourself a great tenant. Here’s how.

Step One: Establish The Basics

You need to know the following about your prospective tenant:

  • Their name
  • Their employment status
  • Their previous addresses
  • The address of a friend or family member willing to vouch for them.

And that’s it. You don’t need their bank statements or a statement from their work; nor do you need to know what they earn. You take a deposit to cover you for two month’s rent – first and last – and there are laws that mean you can evict if they don’t pay the other rent. There’s no need for you to go through someone’s finances with a fine-tooth comb; it’s not a good way to begin a relationship that should be about mutual respect.

Step Two: Spend Time With Them

Don’t rent your property out to someone within 10 minutes of meeting them. Spend a little time together, letting your intuition and gut instinct guide the rest of your decision.

Ask a few pertinent questions, such as their cleaning habits and information about why they are moving. Keep it light and friendly, while still keeping an eye out for any signs that they’re lying to you. If someone is genuinely shady, then you should be able to pick up on it just from the way they handle a conversation with you.

Step Three: Verify

You do need to see some documentation, but bear in mind this is more of a box ticking exercise than anything else. We live in a world where even passport staff can’t tell when a passport photograph is fake, so you don’t stand a chance of being able to spot fake documents.

Nevertheless, ask to see their passport and written verification of any claims they make. Photocopy these documents and keep them on file. If they enter into a tenancy agreement on the back of a lie, then should you need to do it, it should make eviction all the easier.

Vetting a tenant is about ensuring your financial future, not prying into someone’s life and giving off scary control-freak vibes. Follow the above advice, and you won’t go far wrong.

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