Letting Agents and Tenant Referencing

Tenant referencingReferencing is a vital part of the screening and verifying process of potential tenants. A cautious landlord can eliminate a big part of all letting problems through careful screening and selection of tenants. We all know that the majority of tenants are practically decent people, they pay their rent on time, follow the landlord’s rules and generally look after the property. But we can’t be lucky all the time. This does not mean though that the landlord can refuse tenants based on discriminating facts like race, religion, gender or disability. The only cause of refuse should be based upon the merits of the individuals.

After a landlord/owner has found a potential tenant, and they have met/get in contact and viewed the property, the tenant should be asked to fill out an application form declaring his identity, income status, references, personal details such as if if he/she is a smoker, owns pets, has children and so on.

A very important step in the screening process is for the landlord/owner to take up references such as bank, employers and previous landlords, if it is the case. Bank and employer references are important but they only show if the tenant can afford rent or not.This information is not always enough and it shouldn’t be. Usually landlords want to have an idea about who the tenant really is, how did he behave as a tenant before, which is why getting references from previous landlords are so important.

These references should always be verified by telephone because people will often give more honest and impartial opinions when you speak to them. At least in most cases they do. This can be done by the landlord himself, or he can ask letting agents for help. Because a reference is only as good as the work put into it, letting agent should work into referencing, be detailed about inventory, ask the right questions regarding credentials, the address of the property and so on. They shouldn’t just make a quick call to be done and check “tenant referencing” on their to-do list. This is why it is best to find out their referencing methods. It will not only save money, but also many headaches and sleepless nights.

Besides by phone, referencing can also be done with reference forms sent by post or email, which are then cross-referenced with other information sources. This is a very effective way of the screening process.

But there is one question letter agent should be always asking when checking references from previous landlords: Would you rent to this individual again? Why? Why not? It is probably the most important and valuable comment a previous landlord can make.

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