Landlords should interview prospective tenants carefully, so as to assist in choosing one who will be trustworthy and reliable. Taking up references from a prospective tenant’s current or previous landlord, employer and bank can help to inform the tenant selection process.
Some landlords might also use a tenant referencing service, which will make checks and enquiries of a prospective tenant on a landlord’s behalf. Many companies provide services such as this. They can be found online or via insurers or landlord associations.
As part of the pre-tenancy referencing/checks, it is suggested landlords ask the successful tenant to provide details of a close family member or friend who can be contacted in an emergency or if the tenant leaves without notice.
Many agents, and some landlords, ask tenants to pay the fee for using the referencing service. If this is the case, it should be made clear to the tenant that the fee will be non-refundable once the landlord has paid it to the referencing service. Many referencing services turn applications round in three days or so.
In some niche markets, such as letting to students, it is difficult to obtain references because this will be the first time that a tenant has lived away from home. To offset this risk, some landlords ask for guarantors where a parent or friend guarantees to meet the cost of unpaid rent and/or damage up to a given threshold if this is not met by the tenant.