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In the residential property lettings industry, it’s not uncommon to hear horror stories surrounding so-called tenants from hell. Making bad decisions over whom to let their cherished properties out to can result in landlords facing sizeable clean-ups, legal bills and the financial pain of having to restore a property back to its formerly admirable state.

Statistics from the police and the RLA illustrate that between April 2013 and March 2014 alone, 130 cannabis factories were discovered in rented properties in one part of the UK. Other landlords have been known to find, much to their surprise, that their tenants have been subletting the property or in some cases even operating massage parlours, drugs rings and brothels.

Anyone can don a smart suit, polish their shoes and act in a sincere manner when viewing a property, but our experience and that of lettings agents throughout the country shows that basing a lettings decision on such criteria can backfire.

Private landlords who undertake everything on their own are perceived as more vulnerable by intentionally dishonest tenants. A specialist property management agency, on the other hand, knows exactly which checks need to be carried out in order to find trustworthy, reliable tenants. Obtaining a credit check along with a tenant’s employment history, their last three months’ bank statements plus any information on previous properties they have owned or rented, is invaluable in protecting a landlord’s property investment. Going above and beyond the basic and sometimes unreliable third party checks typically carried out as a bare minimum is a wise move.

Savvy landlords take the time to meet with prospective tenants face to face, chatting with them to find out why they are looking to rent, how long they ideally wish to rent for, whether they have children, pets or unusual hobbies, if they smoke and even what they are looking for in a landlord.

Landlords concerned over missed rent can stipulate in the agreement that a standing order must be set up by the tenant. Obtaining a tenant’s full contact details and even those of a family contact, and visiting the property at least four times a year, help keep the landlord tenant relationship on a professional but friendly footing.

The responsibility to ensure that a property is kept clean, along with any garden areas, is down to the tenants – although some seem unaware of this. Landlords or their lettings agents shouldn’t be asked to change lightbulbs or carry out other basic domestic tasks, either.

Identifying the kind of tenant desired, engaging an agency to look after the property’s management, ensuring thorough checks are carried out and maintaining a strong rapport with tenants can often result in landlords seeing their properties successfully being rented out to lovely people for many years, so it’s well worth getting it right

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