Once you have selected a rental property, obtained a buy-to-let mortgage, and purchased the property, you might think the hard part is over – however, this is not the case. Arguably the most difficult and challenging part of the entire process of buying to rent out is finding a good tenant. The process of finding a tenant can either be done privately, or through a letting agent.
Searching for a tenant privately works best if you already know someone reliable who is looking for a place to rent. If you do not, then finding a tenant privately can be quite a chore. You are most likely to have limited options, and it can be difficult to find people who you can rely on to take care of the property and pay their rent on time. If you are bent upon finding a tenant privately, make sure you interview them properly, have them fill out an application form to assess their situation, and do background checks, including talking to the prospective tenant’s previous landlords, speaking with their current employer, looking through their credit history, and running criminal background checks. All this is essential, in order to ensure that you do not end up with the tenant from hell.
If you do not have enough time or feel the hassle is not worth it, and are willing to pay a fee to have someone else do the hard work for you, you can look into hiring a letting agent. A letting agent will advertise your property to maximum effect, and will have a wide variety of potential tenants for you to choose from. The letting agent will also conduct a market appraisal, in order to determine how much rent you are likely to get from your property.
If you hire a good letting agent, you can expect to have him/her take it from there – the agent will conduct viewings on your behalf, take calls, and respond to emails from potential tenants. However, make sure you have open talks with your agent, so that s/he can find you just the sort of tenant you are looking for – e.g. if you are not willing to allow pets, say so.
Once a tenant has been decided on, the letting agent will draw up the tenancy agreement, and a move-in date will be decided upon. On the move-in date, the agent will secure you the first month’s rent, take care of the deposit, have an inventory done (in order to make a note of the condition of the property and the furnishings and fixtures in it), transfer the utilities and council tax to the tenant’s name, and show the tenant around, to help them settle in.