Landlords, how do you find yourself a good tenant?
How do you make sure that the tenant you found is actually a “Good Tenant” who pays on time and doesn’t wreck your house? Read on, the most important tip is at the end.
The ability yo choose the right tenant for you could make the difference between literally giving you nightmares or giving you a peace of mind.
The biggest mistakes that landlord make while screening tenants fall under asking just surface questions about the tenant, for example asking questions like what’s their race, where do they work, how many people are going to be living there, truth is they are hardly a strong indication for you to determine if the tenant is good or bad.
The second biggest mistake is not doing the due diligence of validating the information that tenant provide and take it as is, as you know when tenant are seeking for rent, they will do their best to win your heart over.
So what’s the solution?
Request for employment letter from tenant
Long story short, if the tenant has no some form of income he or she will not likely be able to pay you rent in the long run. An employment letter with proof of income that is able to sustain the cost of living in your house will prove that at the very least he has the means to pay (whether or not he’s willing to pay is another story).
It doesn’t stop there, call the HR department of the company to verify the tenant’s employment, ask for confirmation of their employment, the length of their employment, monthly income etc.
One thing to note is that the cost of your rental should not exceed 40% of the tenant’s income, as this can mean the tenant is subject to financial stress as they probably have other financial commitments
What if the tenant is self employed or working in his own business?
Well you should still request for proof of income for the past 6 months, for most business owners will draw a salaried income. If they still can’t provide you with any proof for whatever reasons, you have to decide if this is a tenant worth risking, read more below to determine.
Request for consent to perform credit check
A good tenant will good track record will not have problem with that credit scoring, in fact great tenant will be proud of it. So ask for their consent to perform a credit check, or ask them to provide you with their credit report. If in any case they refuse to give consent, you should move on, as they probably know that their credit is not good enough or they have something to hide, remember, taking on tenant without this puts you at risk of nightmares for the next 1 year during their tenancy.
In Malaysia a credit report can be requested from from National bank (CCRIS) or a credit reporting agency like CTOS, the report will be able to inform you if the tenant had credit issues in the past, and whether or not it’s a recent issue.
Contact tenant’s previous landlord for reference
Unless the tenant has been living under her parent’s roof, you can always ask your tenant’s past landlord for reference, and again, a good tenant will have nothing to hide. Ask questions like “why did the tenant move out”, “did they pay on time”, “any significant damages or complaints from neighbour?”. These question will give you confident if the tenant really have good history with their past landlord.
Ask for receipts for past rentals
If in the case where your tenant can’t provide reference from past landlord, and you still want to evaluate further, then ask for proof of payments for their rentals for the past 6 months. Here you will know if the tenant did pay in timely manner as they claim.
This also serve as a good reference if they can afford your house rental, if the gap between the receipt and your monthly rental is too big, then you have to due the diligence of asking the tenant why is that so, and cross check that with their employment or latest income. Make sure that the name on the receipt matches their your tenant’s, you never know if they decide to pull one from your back.
Ask the questions for things you know you won’t tolerate
Are you fine with pets in the house or smokers in general? What about sub-contracting your house to other tenants? Do you allow alcohol consumption in the premise? These are the questions that you should clarify with your tenant and make it clear in the tenancy agreement to avoid conflicts later on.
Build tenant loyalty
Let’s face it, this is a 2 way street. You can’t expect your tenant to be good if you are a bad owner, it helps if you build rapport with your tenant from the beginning, how you treat and speak with your tenant greatly affects if they are comfortable sharing the aforementioned information with you, and whether you like it or not, as much as you are choosing a good tenant, they are choosing for a good landlord as well.
Here are some tips to build tenant loyalty
1) Get in touch with tenant every quarter to ask how things are going, the little things matter, if you show care for your tenant, they will likely return the favour
2) Be proactive and fix wear and tear, if it’s a reasonable and not too much, promptly fix it as soon as it’s requested by the tenant.
3) Give a small gift for tenant or incentive (example: discount in rent) for tenants who have been staying for a long time with you, if the tenant has been showing good behaviour all these years, they definitely deserve it. Most likely they will help you get a great tenant for you as well when the times come that they leave.
Every landlord wants to find a great tenant, but few are willing to go the extra miles to get them. The key is trust, but verify. Build rapport and confidence with your tenant, take whatever that you receive with good intention, but make sure you do the due diligence to verify, this is “business” after all.
If you have experience you can share, feel free to write in the comments below!