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5 Tips to Careful Tenant Selection

By Kevin Kelly

Introduction

Managing your own property can be quite daunting and can be worrying with the fear of getting ‘the tenant from hell!’ We have put together some tips over the next few weeks to help you look out for some warning signs and teach you some ‘tricks’ bad tenants play on landlords to rent property. We know you will enjoy this series!
Tip One
Human Nature- Face Value and True Colours- Every prospective tenant will promise you that they will pay the rent on time and maintain the property. But what does their track record show? People are very consistent with being themselves! If a tenant has had a consistent poor rental payment history and tells you that this will be on time for your rental property, usually they will be consistently paying their rent late again!  People are consistent with their ‘true colours’, so be wary of ‘face value’ promises!
Tip Two
Ask for a Rental Ledger- Ask a prospective tenant for a copy of their previous rent payment history. This is also known as a rent ledger. If they have been renting with an agent this will be easy to get. Just request the prospective tenant to ask their property manager for a copy. The prospective tenant can then supply you with the ledger once they have received it.
If you can get their rent ledger showing the last 6 to 12 months of payments, this will give you a great picture of their consistency and payment habits. Remember, how they have paid previously is most probably how they will pay with you!
Tip Three
Be Careful with Inconsistent Information- Some prospective tenants use false identities to hook up telephone, electricity and gas services. They also use false identities to rent property and usually with malicious intent, leaving owed rent and damage to the property. So how do we avoid these types of tenants?   The best way is to ask for forms of identification like a drivers licence (with photo), a medicare card as well as current gas and electricity accounts (these will also confirm their current address). Ensure all identification viewed is cross checked and is consistent with their names and address details on the application form.
For those who wish to ‘fake it’ make it harder to rent your property and easier for them to go elsewhere!
Tip Four
Watch out for Tenants with no History- Sometimes you may come across a prospective tenant that has no rental history for you to check on. Usually the reason is quite genuine, however sometimes they are using this ‘reason’ to hide an unsatisfactory history of eviction. Be sure to ask questions and find out why they have not rented before- does their story make sense? The best rule is that if you are in doubt, just say no!
Tip Five
Beware of False Landlord References- Be wary of prospective tenants giving you ‘false landlord’ references. This is usually friends set up and pretend to be their landlord. When you telephone these types of people their information is usually very vague and they can be ‘over enthusiastic’ in their giving you a ‘great’ reference.
Ensure you ask specific questions like- ‘How much rent were they paying each week?’ or ‘what month did they move into the property?’ Even questions like ‘what is the address of the property they were renting’ can catch false referees out. A lot of the time the ‘landlord’ is not ready for such questioning and suddenly cannot answer you. Again, if you are in doubt do not accept the prospective tenant application and just say ‘no!’

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