How do you get the right tenants?

Entering the world of buy-to-let or simply looking to get new (and better) tenants? We've listed 7 ways to find hassle-free occupants if you're cutting out the middle man.

Start with your social networks

Friends of friends or family are naturally a good avenue to find people who might be looking to rent. And, of course, a reliable way to get trusted opinions on whether they'd be decent tenants. It makes sense to put your ad on your social networks before paying for a public one (and asking your friends to share it if you're on Facebook). You never know: the right person could be at the other end of a comment or a tweet.

Write your own advert and get good photos

The ad

If you're looking for the right people then writing your own ad can help them come to you. Letting agents often create impersonal, industry-standard adverts that don't completely fulfil what you're searching for as a landlord. What do you want from your new occupants: a long-term tenant, people in full-time employment or simply someone who's going to take good care of your property? Set out your expectations in the advert and write it in a friendly and honest tone. Check it over carefully before it gets published - spelling mistakes and bad grammar can be a turn-off.

The photos

You want to find decent tenants, right? Remember that potential tenants are looking for somewhere decent to live, too, and bad photos could prevent the perfect ones from booking a viewing. That's why it can pay to get a professional photographer to come and take shots of your property. They'll know how to get the right angles and lighting to capture interiors and exteriors at their best, and they'll often have the latest equipment so the photos will be of a better quality. But here are some tips if you're planning to take them yourself:

  • Use a tripod to avoid images blurring
  • Switch on lighting to brighten up darker and duller areas
  • Set up rooms to make the best use of space
  • Take exterior shots early in the morning on a brighter day when the light is better
  • Use a free photo editing tool - search 'free photo editor' - to play around with the contrast and brightness of your images

Place your ad where it makes sense

You've created the perfect content for your advert but where do you put it? For example, if you're marketing to students then contact local universities or search 'student rentals' to see specialist websites where you can get the best exposure to your audience. Or if you want everyone from couples to families getting their eyes on it, using sites that submit your ad to major property search engines like Right Move and Zoopla should do it.

Trust your instinct when you meet up

Meeting potential tenants face to face is a good way to help your selection process. It provides an opportunity to discuss your tenancy agreement and gauge their reactions to it. You might want to check in on the property once a month, for example. You'll hopefully get a feel of whether they're the kind of person or people you'd trust to live in your property. Your gut feeling is often right.

Know your tenant?

Do all the background checks to be sure

This is an obvious one but make sure you do all the relevant background checks on your potential tenants. Get proof of identity, current address, and also consider checking their credit history and doing employment checks. This'll obviously give you a good idea of whether they're likely to keep up with the rent and if they've been honest about their job. Letting agencies would do this, so should you.

Check out our landlord checklist guide .

Get references for potential tenants

Always get references from potential tenants' previous landlords and be wary of a reference that sounds too good to be true. A landlord could provide a glowing recommendation because they're desperate to get rid of their existing tenant. You can also request references from employers to get a solid character reference - and this is also a good way to get the lowdown on your potential tenant if they've not lived in a rented property previously.

Don't feel rushed to make a decision

You might be keen to fill your property as soon as possible, however rushing a decision could end up costing more in the long run. For example, you might end up having to fork out for expensive repairs to your property if the tenant is careless and causes damage. Or, of course, they may not pay the rent.

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