You’ve really got to be a bit of both to make sure you get a great tenant. A great tenant is easy to approve.
- Credit score is over 720
- No aliases.
- Employment letter with a name that’s easy to confirm on LinkedIn.
- Better yet, the tenant is on LinkedIn and actually works at the company shown on the employment letter.
- Current Landlord actually owns the building where the tenant says she lives.
The easiest check for me to do is to verify that the Landlord name as listed on the rental application actually owns the building that the tenant says they are renting. This isn’t as easy to verify when the tenant is currently renting through a large corporation, but it is easy enough to verify over the phone. Rather than phone the number on the application, I look up the person who signed the letter on-line and phone the number that’s listed for the company. But if the tenant is renting a house from a private owner, I look up the owner’s name. It’s easy for me to do this because my membership with several real estate boards gives me access to the Land Registry system. I can easily find out who owns the house.
Last week, while checking a tenant’s application, I found that the name on the application did not match the owner of the home. I found the owner’s number and left a message. I also phoned the “landlord” that was listed on the application. She phoned me back the next day. I asked her if she owned the house. She said yes. I told her that her name wasn’t on land registry. Her story changed then. She said that she was sub-leasing to the applicant that I was phoning about. We didn’t rent to this couple.
In our 25 years experience in renting out homes, we’ve made some mistakes. The one that has cost the most was renting to people who would eventually stop paying rent or who would pay later and later each month. Each situation can be traced back to when I was reviewing an application and found red flags. An inaccuracy on an application is one of the best reasons for turning away a prospective tenant. So now, rather than call and ask the tenant about the false information, I do my own detective work and then sometimes I just say no. An extra month vacant is less expensive than missing a few months rent and then having to go to the tribunal for an eviction order. I like to start with great tenants. Some may run into difficulties at some point, but they all start out as great tenants!