Let-only service: meeting potential tenants?

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    Let-only service: meeting potential tenants?

    Good afternoon all

    We use a letting agent to find tenants and to issue the AST and other pre-let paperwork, and we then manage the properties ourselves from that point on. So we haven't so far actually met any tenants before they have moved in, although normally we will send a text on their arrival day to say hello and hoping their move has gone smoothly, etc.

    I know some landlords in our position like to meet the tenants before they sign the AST, but I am curious as to how this works in practice. Do you do a "mini-interview" of all short-listed candidates, or do you just ask to meet the one recommended by the agent? If the latter, then where do you meet them and what do you ask them ...?

    Thanks very much for any thoughts.

    #2
    If you have a good agent you trust it can work fine.
    With a let only arrangement, there's a great temptation to find anyone as a tenant as there's little downside for the agent if it goes wrong.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

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      #3
      Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. We do trust the agent, plus we have a portfolio of properties so if they don't take care in their choice of tenants they risk losing regular business from us. But we didn't want to be the only let-only landlords who never meet their tenants before they move in ... :-)

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        #4
        I also use an agency to advertise, run checks, protects the deposit and issue the ast, but I then take on the management of the tenancy. I insist on meeting the tenants before agreeing to the contract. That's because of past bad experiences, and no I don't trust that the agency has my best interest in mind, only theirs and that's to tick the boxes to protect themselves and rent as quickly as possible. They are for instance very good at trying to convince that I should rent at a lower asking price, even though each time I have had offers at the price I stuck with.

        The agency knows that I will want to meet prospective tenants so ask them if they would mind. If they say no, that immediately raise an alarm bell anyway! We then agree on a date at the house. It is in no way an interview, it's getting to know each other, and the opportunity for them to ask questions that the agency might not have been able to respond (ie. neighbours). It is also an opportunity for me to gain some insight of their situation, ie. do they want to stay long term or not (not that I will systematically choose a tenant that wants to stay long term). Things I look for is a quick look at their car to see if they look after it which is an indication of how they might look after the house, whether I can smell smoke on them (I am very sensitive to it), and just get an overall feeling of their attitude to renting.

        It is is no way fail proof and I once agreed to rent to a couple I met who turned out to be problem tenants. Ironically, I was unsure about them on paper, but meeting them provided me with some reassurance, so had the opposite effect.

        Still, I rather meet tenants just to introduce myself as I think it is the decent thing to do considering I then take on the management, giving them the reassurance that I am a good LL, who knows their rights and would never infringed on them.

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          #5
          Thank you Notyetagain, that is very helpful. I like the idea of meeting the agent's recommended tenant at the house, because an "excuse" can be to answer any specific questions they have about the property/to show them how things work, etc. I had wondered about doing all the initial viewings myself, but as well as being very time consuming it would mean that my agents (who are very good) wouldn't get their own chance to meet and vet everyone.

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            #6
            Originally posted by Little Rabbit View Post
            my agents (who are very good)
            You are lucky, I am yet to meet good agents in my area. Because of their greed and incompetence I insist on meeting the tenants before I commit to letting to them and after they first are vetted, i.e ID checked, affordability check, I would ask them about their work, how long they have worked there, what their intentions are etc and It gives me an opportunity to see if they would get along with me and also see what my gut feelings tell me this would be before the credit checks are run.. The agents in my area will put any Tom, Dick and Harry and insist they are the best tenants and totally rely on the credit check to say yes or no.. Before the appointments I would ask the agents to get the tenants to provide answers to my questions. The number of times I have picked holes in Tenants stories when I talk to them and what they have told the agents is astounding.
            Ideally I would rather not meet my tenants but unfortunately the agents in my area are a notch short of crooks.
            Any advice I give is my opinion and experience, I am as you also learning.

            Comment


              #7
              In general:

              a) Never use agents on a let only basis. You will come last on their list for placing decent tenants.
              b) Always see tenants yourself for viewings
              c) NEVER let an agent choose a tenant (even if it is a fully managed service)

              Regard yourself as duly warned

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                #8
                Agents are only good for doing viewings if you cannot. The property will sell itself with little or no input from agents, never go sole agency always use more than one agent, that allows the potential tenant to switch if they are not getting anywhere with one.
                Any advice I give is my opinion and experience, I am as you also learning.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by AndrewDod View Post
                  In general:

                  a) Never use agents on a let only basis. You will come last on their list for placing decent tenants.
                  b) Always see tenants yourself for viewings
                  c) NEVER let an agent choose a tenant (even if it is a fully managed service)

                  Regard yourself as duly warned
                  Totally agree with this. Either undertake the process start to end yourself or be prepared to pay handsomely for service of the same.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Noyyetagain - "Things I look for is a quick look at their car to see if they look after it which is an indication of how they might look after the house,"

                    This statement does not hold water so beware!

                    I drive an old tatty car (inside and out) but have an immaculate home. A tenant of mine drives an immaculately kept Audi tractor but is trashing my property. He doesn't own it so he doesn't care! You'll find this is the same with many tenants. An office where I worked previously regularly had lights left on when not in use and the toilets left in a state (both ladies and gents) Did they behave like that in their own home? I very much doubt it!

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                      #11
                      I meet the prospective tenant, have a friendly chat about their circumstances such as work situation, children and schools (if relevant) etc fund out why they are moving.

                      I read the current landlord reference and credit check too, for what it's worth.

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                        #12
                        Thank you everyone for your comments. All very helpful about the importance of meeting prospective tenants myself ... after all I wouldn't give a job to someone I had never met.

                        :-) at making judgments based on people's possessions. My own house has a long list of DIY jobs to be done, my car is bashed about inside and out (carrying a ladder to and from properties doesn't help), but I do try to let out immaculate houses to my tenants ... not sure what all that says about me!

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                          #13
                          Just to be clear, the remark about the state of a potential tenant's car is only one of all the subjective attributes I would consider. It just helps give an overall picture. I am fortunate that demand far exceed demand in my area so usually get more than 2 or 3 potential tenants who've already met all the criteria on paper and prepared to pay full asking price so am left with my judgement to pick between them.

                          I did get it very wrong once though, ignoring my initial gut feeling and letting them sweet talk me! They proved to be everything they claimed not to be!

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