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The Perfect Tenant

By Liam O'Boyle

Is this a mythical creature, a figment of our imagination, or alternatively, do they actually exist?

It will depend on your definition of a perfect tenant but most landlords would feel that the perfect tenant pays their rent on time, looks after the house by keeping it clean and damage-free and in the best cases, actually treats I like their own house.

While it is fair to say that they do exist as there are some renters that meet these criteria, it is the ones that do not that continually provide the ‘general’ renter with a bad name, resulting in skepticism from landlords, and a trust relationship that is one-sided till a tenant can prove their ‘perfection’.

Before we move forward, it is important to note that as a landlord, the fault does not wholly fall on the tenant. The experience of the tenant should also be beneficial where they deal with the ‘perfect landlord’ – so make sure that at all times you remain, courteous, professional, and approachable and fair.

Five Things to Embrace as a Landlord

That said, there a five actions that you can take to minimize the risk of the imperfect tenant renting out your property and causing unnecessary damage to it.

1.      Due diligence

Prior to signing up a tenant, check them out. Spending time vetting potential tenants is well spent. Carry out a credit check, ask for previous references, and if you’re uneasy, check social media to make an informed decision around someone. In regards to references, really grill the referee and make sure that they are in fact a legit landlord and not just the tenant’s friend!

2.      Be professional and stern

Set standards and don’t deviate. Be clear on you expectations and note any special requirements in the tenancy agreement; no pets, maximum of two people etc.

If a tenant misses a payment, chase them immediately; don’t sit back until the tenant has missed multiple payments – the likely scenario is a bigger hole that the tenant needs to dig themselves out of, which might result in them disappearing in the middle of the night leaving you empty handed and having to find another tenant in a short period.

Remember that you are not there to be the tenant’s friend (though this may evolve in time). It is important that you are viewed in the light of the landlord and not a friend, as friends will take advantage of each other and the relationship.

3.      Be reactive

When a tenant rings to say that something isn’t functioning as it should, get on to it and sort immediately. Take it a step further and be proactive if possible – add value to the house by updating things, especially if it adds convenience to the tenant. When a tenant sees you taking pride in the property, they too may replicate the same sentiments.

4.      Schedule inspections

Set regular inspection dates and adhere to them. This is a great opportunity to see the ‘state’ of the house, determining any areas of maintenance that need to be scheduled, and an equal opportunity for the tenant to raise any issues with you. It also provides a stronger basis around determining the difference between wear and tear – refer to our blog on general wear and tear and tenant damage for more information.

5.      Acknowledge the good tenant

Over time, the perfect renter may evolve – the rent is paid on time, the house is kept in a consistent state of cleanliness and they gardens look immaculate. Make sure that you let your tenant know that this is appreciated and consider rewarding them for it – build a bond where the tenant just doesn’t want to move!

A simple grocery voucher, meal, or box of chocolates on Christmas Day will make the tenant feel valued and cement their motivation to continually look after your asset. Acknowledging the good tenant may also extend to leniency around rent hikes – you need to ask yourself on whether raising the rent will cause too much of a financial impact upon the tenant which may force them to move on. If so, is losing the perfect tenant worth the additional money you could be bringing in annually? Or potentially even opening you up to more risk with another unknown tenant being signed up?

These five things will help in regards to determining and molding a tenant into a potential perfect tenant. Are there any other actions that a landlord could take to minimise the impact of the imperfect tenant? I would love to hear these, write them down in a comment below.

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