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How to Vet Tenants Legally in the UK

Landlords and letting agents must adhere to a fair and equal process when selecting tenants for their properties. But that doesn’t mean that they cannot select from within that process the renters who they think will be the best fit for them and their property. It is correct that there are laws in place to prevent discrimination, but it is still possible to vet tenants legally in the UK.

This article explores the ways in which landlords or letting agents can screen potential renters and let their properties with confidence that they will be looked after by those who live in them.

Large Numbers of Viewings

Figures show that the average number of viewings for each rental property in the UK hit 20 in early 2023, with rentals in the north west of England attracting 30 interested parties. This means that landlords and letting agents will potentially receive multiple applications for the same property.

This offers a choice to those letting homes and, of course, many will be looking to find those tenants who will cause the least disruption and stay for the longest time. And, as long as they respect the legal obligations of the private rented sector, this is a sensible aim.

How To Vet Tenants

Understand the law

The most important element when vetting tenants is to understand what the law says about the process. Essentially, you cannot show what is termed “unfair prejudice” when rejecting an application from tenants, according to the Equality Act 2010. This means you cannot turn them down on the basis of these elements:

● Nationality

● Disability

● Religion

● Race

● Marital status

● Gender identity

● Pregnancy status

● Sexual orientation

The law is in place to ensure those letting properties do so in an equitable manner and with fair justification for the decisions they take.

Check their right to rent

Anyone who wants to rent a property in England must prove that they are legally allowed to. People who are British or Irish by birth or by naturalisation can rent properties without any issue. For those who are not British citizens, they must prove that they have the right to rent homes in this country.

Landlords and letting agents should carry out these right to rent checks before choosing tenants and is one effective way to vet tenants.

Take your time

The temptation is to make a decision quickly in order to avoid void periods. However, when there are so many applicants, you need to be methodical to ensure you gain the best outcome in the end. If it helps you avoid issues and fill the property for a long period of time, it is worth the slight delay.

Advertising a tenancy early helps you get the applications in before the property is empty and allows you to make a less hurried decision.

Conduct the proper screening

There are steps you can take to help you better understand who is applying for your property. Vet tenants by running standard pre-tenancy screening such as credit checks to see if they have the means to pay the rent and if they have any bankruptcy or county court judgments against them.

This can determine whether you need to ask for a guarantor to ensure the rent is paid.

Another essential vetting check is to check their history as a tenant from a reference from a previous landlord. This will tell you how punctual they are with rent, whether they have caused damage at another property and other methods of uncovering what type of tenant they are.

Meet your prospective tenants

Meeting potential tenants is a good way of gaining a better picture of what they will be like. It builds a relationship that helps you make your decision. If all else is equal, it also allows you to decide who you think you will be able to work with most effectively and harmoniously.

Think practically

Another way of vetting tenants is to look at what they bring to the tenancy in a practical sense. If you can’t choose between two great candidates, the party that wants the longest tenancy could be a deciding factor. Or the tenant who is willing to maintain the garden over the party who would rather leave it to the landlord.

Vet Tenants With More Confidence

You can never be 100% confident that you have chosen the correct tenants, but by carrying out these steps, you can do everything in your power to pick the best of the bunch. Our outsourced property management service helps you vet tenants by ensuring all legal checks take place before the tenancy begins. We also deal with other elements of tenancy admin, property management and more. Call us today on 0208 5757630.


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