A key part of the landlord process
When letting a property, vetting prospective tenants is a key part of the process as a landlord. It allows you to check that they are legally entitled to be in the property, can afford the rent and will make good tenants.
With tenancy fraud being an increasing challenge, verifying the authenticity of tenant applications is crucial. Understanding the preventative measures and due diligence that you can do before handing over the key will help ensure peace of mind. Below are some of the steps you need to consider:
1. Rent checks and right to rent
As a landlord, you are legally required to establish whether your prospective tenant or tenants are aged over 18 and can legally rent. This includes the right to rent, which means they must provide original documents that prove they can live in the UK. You will need to check that such documents – such as a passport or other original immigration documents – are genuine and belong to the tenant concerned.
2. Ensure thorough background checks
You need to be thorough in your background checks. If they have rented before, you will want to know that they’ve been a good, trusted tenant who has paid on time and treated the property with respect. If they are a first-time renter, you also need to be able to trust that they will do the same.
Various red flags will hopefully highlight potential bad tenants, such as rushing to sign a deal or being vague about providing documentation. Taking time to delve deeper is important. Checking employment history, pay slips and bank statements will help tell you more about your prospective tenant – but ensure they are genuine as such documents can easily be faked these days.
3. Get references and contact them directly
Trusted tenant referencing checks are vital when it comes to tenant applications and are part of the process of screening and background checks you should undertake. At the very least, ensure you get references and contact them directly to verify them.
You can either do these checks yourself or leave them in the hands of a professional partner that offers a tenant referencing service that will include everything from employment verification to credit checks, as well as references from previous landlords. Appropriate tenant referencing is also often a specific criteria of landlord insurance products so it’s important it’s done properly.
4. Make use of fraud detection tools and specialist companies
Verifying tenant applications can be a timely and cumbersome process, especially since you are reliant on multiple parties providing details or responding. It’s also relatively easy for fraudsters to fake or alter applications or documents. Specialist fraud detection software, as well as companies that specialise in tenant referencing, can help identify fraudulent tenant applications.
HomeLet is one of the UK’s largest tenant referencing providers and has referenced more than 13 million tenants over the past 30 years. Our referencing products are available to all letting agents who work in partnership with the business. HomeLet’s Landlord Insurance also helps to protect your property and investment.