First-Time Landlord - Please Help!


I’ve just bought a 2 Bed Flat and put it on OpenRent. I’ve had lots of inquiries but most of them are from people with some kind of benefits.

I’m very scared reading some of the stories here on the forum and I won’t be letting the flat out to them.

Does it take long to rent the flat out? If I wait too long I will have to start paying council tax and energy bills.

Any tips from experienced landlords to rent the flat out quickly? I would prefer to rent the flat out to people who are working.


i would rather pay council tax and utilities than rent to a bad tenant… It is tax deductable.


Thanks, Colin.

I will definitely wait. Do you have any tips to get or vet a “good” tenant?

ask them to fill in a questionaire. If they seem ok and you meet them ask the same questions verbally. If they have lied ONCE reject them. There are many more lying tenants than lying landlords .! My best tenants are those who do not overtalk and are females. Tho if they take up with a male I suppose it can change. I have found my first gut feeling is usually right, but we can all make mistakes . I had an applicant who at 11 am smelt heavily of drink. Reject


Thanks a bunch, Colin.

What kind of questions do you ask in your questionnaire?

How old are you? Is it for yourself only? Do you have children? Do you have a car? Where do you work? Are you renting now? What is the name of your landlord? Where do you live? Do you have any ccj s? How much do you earn? Proof? Are you a smoker? How many pets do you have? Can you provide a guarrantor? ETC. I always say " you can ask me any questions also apart from how much I earn." also " you do not have to answer my questions , but if you do not ,I will not rent to you… I ask these questions to everyone working or not


Brilliant. Thanks, Colin!

@Colin3 would she be sending the questionnaire to the people who have already viewed the property or future applicants?

if you say send to those who have viewed the property, I’d say its pointless. She has already worked it out that most of them are on benefits. Driving or not driving a car makes no difference. She is not a referencing company, asking for proof of income e.g a payslip proves nothing. the applicant may have just been fired from the job. Let a referencing company handle this for her

on the other hand, if you say target future applicant with the questionnaire, I’d say it makes sense

see, information gathering is vital but knowing what to do and how to use the information gathered is the key. I think you need to ask yourself clears questions

  1. do i want to rent to those claiming benefits? if yes, do i want to be paid directly by the council or would i prefer the tenant to pay me directly?
  2. do i want to rent to smokers?
  3. do i want to rent to pet owners? etc
    once you have prepared your answers to these questions, you would be able to screen out applicant who respond to your questionnaire

also your questionnaire should go out before you schedule viewing, that way you would decide if you want to ‘waste’ your time or not

two of my properties are currently occupied by benefit claimers - an elderly [single] lady in one and the other , a family with two young daughters

the property with the ‘old’ lady, i bought it with the tenant in-situ. Although she is on full benefit - pension credit etc, she has a son who is a doctor and a daughter who works with boots. When i signed the tenancy agreement, i got the daughter to sign as rent guarantor.

the other lady in the other property, i got two guarantors from her because her first guarantor failed the income check. he didn’t earn enough to guarantee the rent

as a new landlord, there is that fear of not wanting to make mistake. my suggestion would get the questionnaire out ; but know what to do with the information you get back. being on benefit shouldn’t be automatic disqualification - if they can supply decent guarantor, i think i will be satisfied.


car question is because if you have parking spaces . you want to know do they need a space. Best NOT to show your preferences dss or not as you get peoples backs up. IF they tell you how much they earn and you do not think it is enough you can message “sorry I cannot help You” I have done it this way for 40 years ,it works for me >Each LL can tweak to own preferences


here is how to set a pre-screening questions

stick in your questionnaire in the box as auto-response to enquiries

see example

thank you for showing interest in this property.

This property is partly furnished: leather sofa in the living room, large wardrobe in each room, descent size free standing fridge freezer. No bed, sorry whatever makes sense to you**

could you confirm the following:

  1. how many people will be living in this property including children?
  2. how many names (tenants ) will be on the rent contract?
  3. what is the combine annual salary before tax of all tenants
  4. will all the tenants named on the contract agree to be referenced?
  5. if any tenant named on the contract is required to provide rent guarantor, would he/she be able to get one?
  6. How many pets do you have? Please specify.
  7. *** whatever makes to you** but remember you are not a referencing company. However if you want qualify them yourself, you may ask they come with proof of income. DO NOT ASK THEM TO SCAN TO YOU *****

@Pragati1. I tbink you are at a dangerous point in your landlording career. You dont yet know much and worse still you dont know what you dont know. I strongly urge you to do some landlord training, such as the NRLA fundamentals course or you could lose a lot of money with a simple mistake.

Incidentally, Im not sure how you are avoiding paying council tax and energy standing charge between tenancies.

1 Like

Hi David,

I have just put the property on the market and the council tax isn’t due till the 1st of September. I will be paying the standing charges for Energy consumption till the flat is let.

Thanks for your suggestion regarding the NRLA course. I will try to finish it ASAP.


This is brilliant, thanks.

The payment dates for the council tax are irrelevant. It accrues on a daily basis. You cant expect the tenant to pay for days when you are in possession. When you notify the CT office of the date the tenant moves in, (which you should do or you will remain liable), they will bill you for the intervening period.


Hi David,

Thanks, but yes, I was going to pay for the intervening period.

I will not be burdening the new tenant with any unpaid dues.

advertise on spareroom website as whole property, better tenants there


One of my best tenants is a single (working) mum on benefits and conversely, the worst one I ever had was a chap who wasn’t. Passed all the checks through the agents but lost his job within days of moving in. At least those on benefits have their income guaranteed so I wouldn’t discount it automatically!

As for your question about how long it takes, that depends on how quick you are to find a tenant and how soon they want to move in. I would definitely recommend joining the NRLA. Their resources are brilliant.
Good luck


I am a single mother from Ukraine, I receive an allowance for renting an apartment and a universal loan.
I have a profession of a financial analyst, yet without a job.
I have been in London for three months, previously I lived with my ex-husband’s relatives, now I live in a hotel with my 6-year-old daughter. I read your correspondence about how difficult it is to find a normal tenant and I don’t understand why I still live in a hotel without a refrigerator and a kitchen.
I applied to all the agencies in London, but the only point about the work crosses out all my efforts.
Why no job? Because in order to work in the specialty, you need to confirm your qualifications. So how to confirm it - take courses and get a certificate. And how to take courses without knowing the language - learn the language … it takes time …
I came here not because I wanted to, but because I fled with one suitcase from the war. Did I think about my diplomas then? no. is the salary of the cleaner enough to rent 1-2 bedrooms - no. Such a bureaucracy.
This is the other side of your problem…
I wish you good luck in finding a normal tenant that meets all your needs


Yuliia don’t loose heart. There is a lot of good and positives, you have made it leaving behind the worst alive and healthy. No matter the hoops you need to jump through, it will be all worth it. When I came to UK there was nothing except my degrees and a suitcase too. Without the good will of the British I could not have been what I am now today. It is a just society, perseverance pays off, may be moving out to more affordable areas might be better. You will find that people have more time, patience and more approachable there. There are a lot of jobs in the care industry, nhs and tutoring. Your skills might come handy there. Good luck. God bless.You will do well


Hi Yuliia,
Just keep trying. I know it’s hard work and can be disheartening, especially with what you have already been through.

There are other jobs as a fiil-in.

There is an app called Next Door where you can connect with your neighborhood.

It’s very popular in my area, not so much in others, but it’s worth a look.

There was a lady from the Ukraine with a young daughter too, asking for cleaning work.

She was swamped with replies. A lot of people do want to help where they can. I know it might not be your preferred choice, but you never know where it might lead.
Wishing you all the best.
Mrs T