Tenants – how choosy can a landlord be?

Approximately one in every five households is now living in privately rented property in the UK and this is predicted to rise to one in four by 2021. Within this backdrop of ever-increasing demand how selective can a landlord be when deciding who to let his/her property to?

There are a number of factors to consider here and one of the most important is making sure that the selection process is not discriminatory. Under the Equality Act 2010 it is illegal to treat anyone less favourably due to a “protected characteristic”, as listed here: https://www.gov.uk/discrimination-your-rights. Electing not to take tenants in receipt of benefits has recently been ruled as discriminatory due to a court case which has just been announced (http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/agent-who-advertised-no-dss-property-pays-out-thousands-for-indirect-discrimination)

When giving a landlord advice on tenant selection, another factor is to check if there any restrictions on types of tenants within any applicable head-lease. There may also be restrictions imposed by the mortgagee (within the consent to let) which can include maximum tenancy lengths, types of tenancy agreements used and others. It is quite common for a mortgagee to stipulate that only AST’s can be used and this of course will completely rule out letting to a corporate tenant.

Also, how suitable is the property for the selected tenant profile? For example, if the preference is for 2 professional sharers within a 2 bedroom flat with 1 double and 1 single bedroom this may well be an issue!

Are there any Occupancy Restrictions applicable in the local area or any Additional/Selective Licensing Schemes which can have a bearing on the number and type of tenants selected? This can be easily checked with the Local Authority.

These are just some of the factors which can be involved in determining the preferred tenant profile itself but of course, once this is decided, thorough referencing and Right to Rent checks will need to be carried out once an offer has been accepted in principle. Agents should give appropriate advice and all necessary information to give landlords confidence in their tenant selection decisions.

By complying with any relevant restrictions and having a balanced and well-reasoned view on who to accept into a tenancy, a landlord can hopefully attract suitable tenants without prolonging the time it will take to achieve a successful let.

Caroline Kenny AssocRICS DipRLM FARLA(retd) is a freelance residential lettings consultant as well as a Business Development Consultant to the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) caroline.kenny@ukala.org.uk.

Picture of Sam Zawadzki

Written by Sam Zawadzki

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