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How to select good tenants fairly

As a landlord or agent, it’s perfectly acceptable to want the best tenants in your property – to protect your asset and ensure prompt rent payments. But how can you go about selecting the right people fairly, without committing unfair prejudice against others – and how do you know if you’re really choosing the best ones?

Unfair Prejudice

Landlords don’t have complete freedom to choose who they rent their property to. For example, it’s illegal to refuse someone based on the following characteristics if there isn’t any lawful basis for doing so: 

  • Nationality 
  • Disability 
  • Religion 
  • Race 
  • Marital status 
  • Gender identity 
  • Pregnancy status 
  • Sexual orientation  

However, barring these factors, landlords are free to choose the right tenant for them.

Right to rent scheme

There are regulations in place to protect tenants but also landlords. The ‘right to rent’ scheme is designed to stop people renting if they don’t have legal permission to live in the country. It’s up to the landlord or agent to check this before tenancy begins or they could face financial penalty or criminal conviction.

Tenant screening

It’s common practice (and a recommended one) to screen prospective tenants. These pre-tenancy checks will give you some insight into the risk-level, for example: 

  • Credit checks – a poor credit history will give an indication if someone has financial troubles or struggles to pay bills on time. A credit check will also reveal any county court judgements and bankruptcy. You are also allowed to request recent bank statements, payslips and confirmation of employment to check income. A non-existent credit history could be due to age. In that scenario, you should ask for a guarantor. 
  • Previous tenant history – you can check tenancy histories if your prospective tenant has rented in the past. You will be able to find out if rent was paid on time, if the property was damaged and if the previous landlord is happy to give a reference.   

Tenant referrals

Attracting the best tenants from those you know is often much easier that predicting the behaviour of a relatively unknown selection of people. 

Reputation is key here – and a good reputation comes from good relationships with existing tenants. 

Maintaining strong relationships with tenants increases the likelihood of high-rated reviews and referrals so it makes sense to formalise that process rather than leave it to chance. 

With solid relationships maintained, it becomes much easier to encourage your good tenants to leave positive reviews and to spread the word of property vacancies to others they know. 

The takeaway

Whilst it is impossible to predict the future in tenancies, the checks and references above do give some insight into tenant behaviour and lessen the odds of renting to a problematic tenant. 

But, don’t forget to strengthen those tenant relationships you already have. Celebrate the good tenants, look after them and they’ll look after your property and reputation in return to attract more great tenants in future. 

Learn more about our credit referencing service and how to attract and retain the best tenants. This service can be purchased without a property listing for independent landlords.



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