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articles > How Five Minutes and the Price of a Meal Out Can Get You the Best Possible Tenants...
Article > .....How Five Minutes and the Price of a Meal Out Can Get
................. You the Best Possible Tenants...

Article kindly supplied by Phil Martin
Rapid Property Buyers Limited
25 Long Ayres, Caldecotte, Milton Keynes, MK7 8HF
0845 4596103


Let’s face it, your buy-to-let investment, whether consisting of one property or a portfolio, is probably the biggest asset you’ll own… unless of course you can afford to purchase a collection of old masters!

So why would anybody hand over their most valuable asset for exclusive use, for a minimum of half a year, to a complete stranger, someone they’ve never met before nor know nothing about? Well, it beats me, but it happens all the time.


Yes, there are many trusting souls in society who, for whatever reason, feel that leaving their £150,000 commodity to someone for a period of time is OK and that in all likelihood, they would be very unlucky for something to go wrong.

Well, what’s the worst that could happen? Surely the tenant wouldn’t lie, withhold their rent for months, knock-down walls without permission and cause the landlords so much stress that they become directly responsible for the landlords’ divorce? Well, yes, that actually happened to a very good friend of mine who failed to perform the correct level of due diligence on their tenant because he was ‘such a nice person’ and could clearly be trusted. Ouch.

Let’s explore the situation: why use the words ‘due-diligence’? Doesn’t that mainly apply to business? Yes, it does and as my good friend Gavin Williamson points out to the landlords and letting agents he works with, each property should be managed with the same skill, respect, level of standards and due-diligence as one would operating a business. In fact, would you purchase a business without checking the accounts, ask for references, request all sorts of other evidence, etc?

If you don’t have the experience of running a business, a good question is to ask yourself how one of your business idols would act in similar, appropriate circumstances. For example, you are about to let a property and you could ask ‘How would Duncan Bannatyne act when looking for a tenant?’ (obviously pick your own role-model!).

I think we’d all agree that society would be a much better place if everyone was trusting and everyone was trust-worthy, but none of us should be naïve, especially when handing over a property to a stranger. Are you aware that many of your rights as an owner diminish whilst a tenant is in possession of your property? It’s almost like tenants own the property for the term of the tenancy.

The implications of that become clear when things go wrong. What happens when a tenant decides to withhold their rent? Can we enter the property and take it back? Of course we can, but only once the due process of court takes place. Serving a Section 8 notice for rent arrears is a little complex but once the procedure is running, it’s a matter of waiting for a court date for a judge to hear the evidence for eviction.

So, we’ve waited for two months since the start of the arrears before we can serve a Section 8, Ground 8 for arrears and ultimately mandatory eviction, we wait a week more before we can present the notice at court and then we discover that average waiting time at our local court is three months!

Well, we justify to ourselves, my evidence is in order so at least I’ll get the property back in three months time, but hang on…that’s five months since the tenant stopped paying and with the property just washing it’s face at £500 a month, with an average salary at my job and with a few debts, how can I pay my mortgage? Am I going to be repossessed by the time the tenant is evicted?

That is a grim reality and a major dilemma for many landlords.

Rent arrears is one of the major hassles of letting property and in fact, an occupational hazard, but not the only one. There are many areas of breach during a tenancy, including major damage to a property, unauthorised sub-letting, turning it into a cannabis farm (surprisingly common for various types of property), running it as a brothel (it happens!) and other less sinister problems.

Obviously not all tenants cause these sorts of issues, and I’d like to think the majority are decent, honest people. However, even some of those decent people fall on hard times through no fault of their own and that can directly impact their landlords.

So, how do we mitigate these sorts of issues and protect our assets as much as we possibly can? Well, firstly, we need to set our expectations from the outset and consider how we’d like our property to be treated for at least the following six months, how necessary a regular income of rent is to us and how much money we would like to spend rectifying someone else’s damage. I think the answers are obvious.

Next, we need to set the prospective tenant’s expectations (from the outset) by advising them we are going to be checking references, checking their finances and where necessary, requesting guarantors. Most tenants would expect that level of diligence, but there are those who would hope to avoid it and you may be lucky that they run a mile when they realise how professional you are acting.

OK, what do we need to check? To ensure the affordability of the rent is sound, checking at least three months’ worth of bank statements is a good idea. Unless doctored, the bank statement will show all the tenant’s outgoings and you can clearly see where the rent is going to come from (or not, as the case may be).

Next, we need to arrange a professional credit-check and referencing of last landlord and employer. Many people overlook this basic part of the equation, maybe because they feel it’s too time-consuming, too expensive or because they are unsure where to go for these type of reference services.

This is misguided. For less than £35, a credit check and reference is an absolute must, can potentially save £1000’s and also save many hour’s worth of stress. Professional referencing takes minutes, is done online and is incredibly cheap, compared to the alternative. It will uncover any adverse credit situations, verify employment and past residence and will also provide you with the answer to one of the most important decisions of your ‘business’; do you accept the tenant, accept with a guarantor or reject without question?

It won’t filter all those tenants who are going to go bad, but isn’t it comforting to know that it will filter the majority and therefore the odds of you having a stress-free let are greatly improved? is our new online Credit Checking and Referencing Service, with it’s simple and quick application form and a fixed cost of only £19.97 it is destined to become industry leading.

In Total Support,

Phil Martin

About Phil Martin, Mortgage Rescue Network and Rapid Property Group
Phil and Wendy Martin are blessed with 5 daughters aged 3 - 14 & enjoy being full-time parents. Phil’s focus in property has been to support and help distressed vendors as well as to consistently grow his own portfolio. His brand Mortgage Rescue Network featured in The Telegraph as an example of a sustainable sale and rent back provider. Phil recently bought and relaunched the well known sourcing company and is currently focussed on expanding Rapid’s range of quality services and providing quality deals for portfolio clients. If you would like to introduce deals or ideas, please email details to


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