A viewing is the tenant’s chance to see your property — but it’s also your chance to meet the tenant.
You’re not making a quick sale when letting a property. You’re deciding who to trust with one of your most valuable assets. It’s important to make sure that you have a clear idea of what a prospective tenant wants and needs from the tenancy. This will help you avoid a whole raft of nasty problems down the line.
This article tells you everything you should be thinking about when you meet a prospective tenant for the first time at your viewing.
Before a prospective tenant even gets to a viewing, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle by asking them to respond to a few pre-viewing questions. What do we mean?
Often tenants will apply for your property because of how nice its pictures are or its great location. That’s great — but if they have ignored your advert’s criteria, then they are wasting both your time and theirs.
OpenRent allows you to automatically send all applicants a list of vetting questions that simply get the tenant to confirm that they have read your advert and meet its requirements. For example, if you said “no pets”, and the tenant says they have pets, then you know you don’t need to ask them to view the property.
By vetting tenants in this way, you make sure you only give viewings to serious tenants who have read your advert properly and who you may actually rent to.
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Essential Questions to Ask Prospective Tenants at Viewings
Because you have vetted your tenants before inviting them to view your property, you can be fairly sure that the people you are showing around know what kind of tenants you are looking for. This puts you on a good footing to see how you get on during the viewing without having to punctuate the conversation with warnings and rules that could sound unwelcoming.
There is a list of essential questions that every landlord should ask when meeting tenants at a viewing. Here are some of the most important:
- Are you [the tenants at the viewing] planning to move in with anyone else who isn’t here today?
- (In England) will you be able to prove your ‘right to rent’?
- When are you looking to move in?
- Are you ok with the proposed minimum tenancy length?
- How do you plan to pay the rent?
- Do you consent to undergoing tenant referencing checks performed by a professional referencing company?
These questions for potential tenants will provide a solid base of understanding which you can use to decide who to let your property to.
Additional questions landlords can ask tenants
In addition to these basic and universal questions, landlords will need to ask further questions based on whether the tenants plan to keep pets, are students, or are unlikely to pass referencing due to their earnings.
Your pre-viewing vetting questions will have told you what kind of pet the tenants plan to move into your property. This is your chance to learn a little more.
- Can I meet the pet before it moves in?
- Would you be able to provide a ‘pet reference’ from a previous landlord?
- Will you be able to pay the maximum deposit (five weeks’ rent) so that I can have maximum coverage against any damage caused by the pet?
- Do you agree to acquire my written permission before getting any new pets? (Be sure to explain that you will not unreasonably withhold this permission.)
Around 14% of UK landlords rent to students. They are a specific kind of tenant with clear needs. These questions will help you determine if the students are right for your property.
- If you are an international student, will you be able to provide your student visa in order to show your ‘right to rent’?
- What are your course dates?
- Do you plan to remain in the property during university holidays like Christmas and Easter?
- Do you plan to move out permanently over the summer?
- Are you ok to seek my written approval before subletting any rooms, for example during university holidays?
- Will you be able to provide a UK-based guarantor in the (likely) event that you fail tenant referencing?
- Do you plan to pay the rent using a university bursary, loan or grant scheme?
Tenants not earning through salaried employment
Most landlords want tenants to be able to demonstrate they can afford the rent. This is best done through referencing checks, which verify the income of the tenant. But tenants who do not earn money through a salary, such as those running their own business or claiming benefits, can fail referencing checks despite being able to afford the property.
If you have found out that your prospective tenants may fail referencing, then a few more questions might be needed.
- Would you be able to provide a guarantor who could pass referencing?
- Is there any other way, aside from referencing checks, that you can demonstrate you have enough money to pay the rent?
- Would you be able to pay several months’ rent up front to give me more protection against rent arrears?
Asking tenants the right questions, both before and during the viewing, will help you choose the best tenants for your rental property. Remember: anything you forget to ask during the viewing, you can follow up via email, text or call. Try writing down important details, such as their preferred move-in date, so you don’t forget them — especially if you are giving viewings to multiple tenants. It can get hard to keep track!