I remember reading in the forums previously that many landlords have a standard set of screener questions, often asked even before setting up a viewing. Does anyone have a sample set of questions I could use as a thought starter myself please?
I recently had to pay for a couple to have a credit check, after verbally being told they were both earning enough, however both failed the checks miserably. I realise people can still ‘bend the truth’ but now that LL’s are responsible for paying for the checks I want to formalise my selection process on who to proceed with. When I asked around at people renting at work, many said they would not be comfortable stating an approximate income, but surely this is key in passing the risk assessment?
Many Thanks, Scott.
I ask Are you in work? is it fror yourself only?. where do you live now? do you smoke? do you have pets? You need to know an income, if they want your place they will tell you
PS its your place you ask what you want
Thanks Colin. Yeah, you at right of course. Seems like every new law is penalising all landlords instead of the problem ones. I guess the ll now has to be accused of being “non-pc” just to get some confidence in applicants.
It’s important that the applicant not only states their level of income but proves it.
I have had applications from people who claim they can afford the rent but have clearly forgotten to include food, council tax, gas and electric etc in their budget forecast of outgoings v net income. This obviously manifests an financial issue and it’s possible that your rent won’t get paid.
As part of due diligence checks the income element is a very important question and I also ask if the applicant has any loans which further dilutes the their net income putting even further pressure on the rent consistently being paid in full and on time
very true, in your head you can work out all the other expenses they will have and judge accordingly
I always ask tenants to provide a letter from their employer stating that their income is sufficient to meet housing costs of £xxx. This figure includes rent plus estimated bills. It’s up to the employee & lender whether actual salary is disclosed, but most times it is Employers rarely will provide such a letter to a “dodgy” employee or a new recruit etc
always use the ad as your opportunity to lay down minimum expected
what is not
allow tenants to offer you references,mobile numbers
Always indicate you will be taking up references PERSONALLY with per office of firm
Beware of one man bands
“”"""""""""" "just got back into country
Always be empiric -use Experian file
This shows their ACTUAL level of debt -CC loans as opposed to whats claimed
ALSO shows their ACTUAL addresses -see linked addresses -as opposed to them trying to "fill in any gaps"or recreate history
ALWAYS ask for
copy of current employment contract -showing income,bonus etc
Copy of past 2 year LL contract,showing tenants names,rental period and rent -then compare it with linked addresses
ALWAYS get min 3 months bank statement-look out for the outraged!
easy in -hard out
Grannies rule ; income 3 times rent tick
only two times…lets hope they never fall out!
Finally,given the advent of so much financial legislation recently-limiting what can be claimed by you…are you sure this is right for you!!
Thanks for your reply David. Some useful thoughts / tips there!
Ask for 3 months bank statements… Thats free for both parties. Not had them refused for sensible tenant prospects. After seeing them and making an assessment I destroy them / delete them if its a scan.
I agree with you wholeheartedly Scott. The system used to be that the holding deposit would not be returned if the tenants failed the referencing didn’t it? And if they passed then their whole holding deposit would be credited towards the first months rent? It seems entirely unfair that, in the process of finding tenants, Landlords could, essentially, find themselves paying for 20 reference checks before finding tenants who passed. I think this persecution of Landlords now is absolutely abysmal. I wonder how long it will be before there are no private Landlords?
Totally agree. I am also finding that there are a lot more timewasters over the last year. I might get 40 enquiries on OpenRent and if I am lucky 10% will lead to a viewing. As soon as I even ask them for a telephone number I don’t hear any more. If I do get a number and actually manage to speak to them it is like pulling teeth getting any information from them. I had one guy “pass on that” yesterday when I tried to actually speak to him before coming out to a viewing!
I am trying to cut down on car use and wasted time as it takes me on average 2 hours to get to a viewing and back in London traffic.
I like David’s list, very good standard to go by. There are too many chancers now that try to get access to property without being able to prove their background.
I state the minimum income level required on the advert and ask prospective viewers to confirm they meet it before I will do a viewing and before I proceed with OpenRent referencing I ask to see 6 months bank statements showing income and rent payments and a copy of a credit report e.g. experian. Had a few chancers turn up for viewings who couldn’t then produce the proof so saved myself about 3 referencing fees by asking for the evidence first.
Karin, I suggest you use Open Rent’s free screening service when you place an ad. We’ve previously had enormous volumes of enquiries where the standard was not great but this time with the auto screening we’ve had 9 in five days. 5 of which are super keen and 3 of these seem like good prospects.
Doing this on a smartphone abroad (fat fingers, small keyboard, almost too bright to see the screen… excuse me while I adjust my halo…) so will rattle out a reply and hope is of some help at least.
In brief, ask vetting questions/obtain suitable ‘evidence of potential viability’ such as the examples below and well before both parties decide worth proceeding to a formal referencing.
A list of some suggestions for all adult tenant applicants follows:
1 Current home address and if rented
2. How long there/reason for moving
3. Place of work
4. Job description
5. How long there
6. How contracted
7. If wish to proceed to application once having viewed, able/willing to provide proof of income at that point? (suggest last 6 consecutive months: pay slips or bank statements.) *
8. To proceed towards tenancy, would you be able to provide satisfactory employer/landlord references.
As I said, not an exhaustive list but, under the current, ridiculous legislation where formal referencing is now on our tab, it is absolutely the landlords prerogative to do initial checks for themselves. If you are happy with how things go (and look for early signs of resistance or objection and if you sense it, reject) I would generally still recommend that you invest in formal referencing. Most people are unaware how to check for current/satisfied ccj’s (County Court judgements - where a court has ordered that they pay a debt, the victim having had to go to court to try to reclaim it) This is a critical check of integrity. Do not skip it.
Formal referencing takes care of this.
In my experience, an applicant with an active ccj or more than one ccj no matter whether still active or not, is an ABSOLUTE NO-NO.
Not only have they taken goods or services as their own, they have in effect forced the person who trusted them to proceed legally simply to get their money back. You will hear the best of stories from the very best of fraudsters.
In all cases, ask applicants early on -and before you bother with anything else- if they have any active or satisfied ccj’s, however. Again, in my experience, some proven bad-debtors will lie hoping you won’t actually do the necessary checks.
I had a couple who admitted to one active (current) and one satisfied ccj (now paid, by order of a court). They clearly thought I would be disarmed by their honesty. They actually had, between them, 6 live and 3 satisfied ccj’s. And guess what… they had offered to pay 6 months up front. What fun I would have had from month seven.
Bad-debtors and liars go hand in hand.
The applicants should have been advised as a courtesy that landlords now more likely do initial vetting checks themselves and prior to formal referencing because of this being a new expense now put on them. Initial checks help minimise unecessary expense and potential time wasting of both parties.
Finally and as just intimated by example, do not be wooed by an offer to pay, for example, 6 months up front. It is an entirely different scenario, however, should you decide to require that of them. You are always better off with a simpler scenario, rent paid monthly by full time tenants in a family unit. It’s a red flag not a free lunch. I used to see it the other way, out of greed.
In my experience (landlord in UK and, more recently Spain since 1997) an offer of an up front payment is almost inevitably because there are issues which may well bite you on the ar*e as you approach the time when you need regular payment from them. My advice? Don’t jump at their invitation. But, in some cases, consider it as a requirement. Your prerogative. You assess based on perceived risk; the landlord still calls the shots here, at least for now.
But, if on your terms, require 3 months to always be in credit I.e. having paid 6 months up front, they agree to pay the usual monthly rental amount just prior to end of month 3.
Hope helps. Excuse any errors or typos!
*If you decide to retain copies of bank statements or passports and other obviously private and personally identifiable info., you will need to registered with ICO - Information Commissioners Office- as a ‘data controller.’ Its not complicated to register (costs in region of £40 or year now, I think) but if it sounds like too much hassle, fair enough. I see no reason to retain copies of statements pay slips and I also feel that, on balance, that can only feel overly intrusive. There is a certain reassurance by making clear you won’t be retaining anything (other than as now required under Right to Rent Act) but you just need sight of proof of income, for example. You can ‘look but not retain’ without registering under current guidelines but check this because DPA (Data Protection Act) legislation changes in an instant and because I won’t know when you are reading this.
I am registered with ICO because I do retain photo images of their passport photo pages. Plus… I know I’m covered should I wish to keep a copy of anything else which I sometimes choose to. To be accused of data breaches can be more frightening than you think, I imagine.
**David 17 also makes some good points and suggestions.
Good luck out there.
We use an application form and insist on 6 months bank statements & payslips and will not consider anyone who is unwilling or can’t supply all this information. Admittedly, we’re not dealing with ‘top end’ properties here but I think this is perfectly reasonable for the average tenancy.
Page one of the form is attached, I’ll have to send page two on another message
Here’s page two.
Hope this helps.
I’ve just read Peter’s advice and I think that covers it all very well. Thanks for heads up on the ICO.
Hi Tina, this is really handy! Do you mind if I share it with our other landlords when they ask what they should ask tenants?
Yes, fine Sam, we’re more than happy to help others.
Tina (and Kevin) Smalley
m. 07768 605058 e. email@example.com
Just filled a property today - THANKS OPENRENT!
These are the questions I generally ask:
Full Name Age/DofB Contact details? - I check out on Facebook and social media then!!
Do you know where property is?
Are you employed? Salary? Will you be receiving help with housing costs?
Where are you currently living? Family, rented – why are you moving?
Notice required at current address? When do you want tenancy to start?
Number of people will be living in the property?
It is a NON SMOKING PROPERTY – aware?
Do You Have Any Pets?
Rent in advance and deposit – do you have enough funds to pay this?
Can You Provide References From Your Employer and FORMER – not Current Landlord?
Will You Agree to a Credit and Background Check - CCJS?
Have You Ever Been Evicted?
Do You Have Any Questions?