Screening for the right tenant

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Becoming a landlord isn’t easy, especially in Malaysia, where policies are friendlier towards the tenant. And it is a rite of passage for every fledgeling landlord to experience, once in a while, a tenant from hell. It is a learning process, and ultimately, we master the art of weeding out such bad apples from our pool of prospective tenants. But why learn from painful experience when we can learn from the mistakes of others. Here are a few tips to consider when looking for a reliable tenant.

1/ Ability to pay

A doller bills in a wallet
Your tenants can only pay their rent on time if they can afford it in the first place. Hence, their monthly salary is a good indication of their ability to be good paymasters. Ideally, your rental amount should never be more than half of your tenant’s monthly income. This is to ensure that they are capable of comfortably meeting their daily expenses while having the surplus to pay for the rent. Give priority to potential tenants who are capable of furnishing you with a salary slip, best if it is verified by the human resource department.

2/ Desperation

Happy young Asian couple and realtor agent. Cheerful young man s
Be careful of tenants who are too keen to sign the tenancy agreement. Possibly, they are about to be evicted by their previous landlord, thus their urgency to find the next roof. On the other hand, quality tenants often take their time exploring the available opportunities. They may ask many questions as they are interested in renting for the long term. So be there to answer all their queries.

3/ Assessment

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When renting to a family unit, you may want to prioritise couples with dual-income as their purchasing power is stronger. Unemployment is a tragic but likely prospect in the current economic state. If a spouse happens to lose his or her employment, the other can serve as a backup. The same cannot be said to a household propped by a singular breadwinner. All the eggs are in a basket, and the monthly income may just be enough for the family to get by.

If you are renting to a college or university student, give priority to those who are studying full time, especially if their finances are being backed by their parents. Strangely, students who juggle work and education usually make bad paymasters. Possibly, their family is financially constrained, hence the need to pick up a vocation while studying. (This is merely a general guideline. Circumstances and factors, both internal and external, need to be taken into consideration.)

4/ Get their referrals

Smart phone in a dark

Reliable tenants should have no trouble preparing a list of referrals that you can call for a background check. But then again, bad tenants are equally capable of handing you a referral list, complete with bogus individuals to exhort about their virtues. To get them at their own game, ask detailed information about their rental period with the so-called referral as well as the address of the previously rented property. Then, call up the referral and ask him the same question. If the information provided is contradictory, it is a red flag indication.

5/ Relatives

woman hiding kitchen knife.
Greenhorn landlords may assume that relatives are more “reliable” when it comes to coughing up that monthly rent. They are in for a rude awakening as the opposite is often true. Relatives, especially, are notorious at not paying up on time due to the “relative factor” and they make you feel guilty for chasing them for the rent.

You can’t evict them either, not without causing a strain to the relationship, if not outright enmity. Opportunistic individuals are like a package deal, and they typically come with backstabbing tendencies too. They may inform the whole village and all your kin about the suffering that they endured (real or imagined) in your cruel hands, effectively ruining your reputation.

Placing the linchpin on this point is the fact that you have to meet them on festive seasons, exchanging fake smiles across the reunion table. To make matters worse, they usually demand unnecessary rental discounts on the reasoning of having similar genes with you, regardless of how watered down it is. Maintain a good relationship with your relatives by telling them that your properties are fully rented.

Want to contribute articles to StarProperty.my? Email: editor@starproperty.my
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