What Type of Tenant Is Best for Landlords

People often ask me “What sort of tenants should I pick?”

My answer is “Well, that depends upon what type of property you have and what the local market demand (and supply) is like.” Of course, if you are any good at this business you’ll know to check where the tenant demand is likely to come from before you buy.

As I have noted here before, some landlords do very well letting to students and some do well letting to tenants who are on Local Housing Allowance (Housing  Benefit.) Still others, usually those with suitable up-market accommodation, tend to specialise in short term lets and / or are players in the corporate lettings market, (where a company pays the rent on behalf of their tenants.)

Assuming you have a choice, the best type of tenant really does just come down to the local market.

But in some places there is no choice anyway. For example, in parts of college towns dominated by big universities, families and working professionals just won’t be interested in renting a property where all the neighbours are party loving students and the area dies for 5 months of the year (during the college long vacations.) Equally, in economically depressed towns, tenants on Housing Benefit are the only tenant type there may be.

Hard Work

Without doubt though, some tenant groups can be harder work (though again, not always, and it very much depends upon the specific tenant you get.)

There are certainly many landlords who will steer clear of letting to students or letting to people on housing benefits or both groups. There will be a number of reasons why they might do this.

In the student market, the perception among many landlords is that students can take up a lot of management time and tend to not look after properties very well.

In the direct let to housing benefit tenants end of the lettings market, landlords are wary of the paperwork and fearful of the management time connected with sorting out rent payments that may start and stop if the tenant moves in and out of work.

There are other reasons that landlords may have to reject the options of letting to tenant groups such as these. Some of these are valid reasons, others are myths.

But the various difficulties can be overcome.

For example, for Housing Benefit tenants it’s always possible to get rent paid direct and some local authorities have supportive Housing Benefit staff who will sort out non payment problems fast. And once you have done the Housing Benefit paperwork once, you tend to get better at it plus you will learn to discern a good tenant applicant when you see one. In student lets, a good independent inventory and a chunky deposit will protect your asset if the students don’t look after the property properly.

Range of Tenant Types

In the markets where I operate, there is fortunately a wide range of tenant types to choose from. I tend to specialise in 2 bed freehold houses with gardens. And since there are plenty of working people in work, I don’t need to look at the student or Housing Benefit markets.

My applicants will be typically two sharers or a couple. Now, I know from experience that couples (either with or without kids) tend to look after the property better when they are living there than the sharing singles, though all my tenants have left all my properties in a tidy condition when they came to leave. (They do this because I do a thorough inventory and make it clear what I expect them to do in terms of cleaning in order to get their deposit back!)

The only disadvantage of two sharing singles (and women are as bad as men here) is that the place will be a bit more messy when they live there (compared to a couple) which makes it harder when you are doing viewings.

Empty pizza boxes left lying on the floor will tend to put off potential new tenants when they come to view. I know from experience that two sharing men will tend to stay a long time and generally much longer than two sharing women (who seem far more likely to fall out with each other than two sharing men do.)

Boyfriends will also tend to hang round and stay over at their girlfriends places more (than the other way round) which leads to more wear and tear too at the girlfriends’ house.

And the further from home the tenants are,  the longer they may have friends coming to stay for.This is particularly the case when letting to young singles whose country of origin (and mates) are several continents away. In these cases you may find your place being occupied by more than just the tenants, for most of the time.

Of course, these are generalities.

The key thing you must do is to select people who have a history of paying their rent in the past. You can only find this out if you do proper reference checks on the applicants.

If they always pay their rent on time, you will find you can live with empty pizza boxes left on the floor though you may, however, just have to wait until they have gone before you can start marketing it again.


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