Some believe tenants with criminal convictions are less likely to pay rent, and more likely to cause damage.
However, is it really that simple?
Should you let to tenants with a criminal record? Let’s take a closer look to help you weigh up the different factors.
Why Do Some Landlords Have Their Reservations?
First things first, let’s explore why some landlords have reservations about letting to certain tenants.
All private landlords are looking to safeguard their investment. This means making sure a tenant:
- Can pay rent on time
- Has the right to rent in the UK
- Is unlikely to cause damage to their rental property beyond fair wear and tear
For this reason, many run tenant reference checks to ensure someone doesn’t have a criminal history.
However, someone with a criminal past may not necessarily be a bad tenant. This also works vice versa.
How to Find Out If a Tenant Has a Criminal Past
Asking a tenant for a basic disclosure certificate will show their criminal record. Also, certain reference checks can give you the information you’re looking for.
What to Consider When Running Criminal Record Checks
If you run a background check and discover a prospective tenant has a criminal record, there are some key factors to consider:
What Crime Was Committed?
Some crimes are far more serious than others. You should consider the severity of the offence before deciding whether to rule out a potential tenant or not.
You should also weigh up whether this crime would impact them as a tenant. If someone was caught growing cannabis in your property, for example, this is grounds to serve them with a Section 8 eviction notice.
How Many Crimes Were Committed?
Was the crime a one-off offence or multiple? This should give an indication into whether they’re a reformed character or not. An isolated incident is very different to a long rap sheet.
How Long Ago Was the Crime?
Time is also a significant factor that you should weigh up. How long ago was their crime committed?
Arrests vs. Criminal Convictions
If considering a potential tenant, you need to ensure you only look at convictions – not arrests. Being arrested for something does not make someone guilty of that crime.
Is Anyone Else at Risk?
If you’re letting a HMO, you need to make sure your other tenants won’t be at risk. This involves looking at the nature of the crime; violent offences are very different to others.
Can They Still Pay Rent?
As a landlord, your primary concern will often be to ensure your investment is secure.
Has this criminal conviction prevented them from holding down long-term employment? If so, this may impact their ability to keep up with rental payments.
This is why thorough credit checking is essential.
Is Your Rental Property at Risk?
Does the prospective tenant have a history of arson, or vandalism? This may make you think twice about whether to let to them.
Regular landlord inspections can help you ensure your property is being looked after as agreed.
Tips for Letting to a Tenant With a Criminal Record
If you’ve decided to proceed, here are some tips:
Tenants with unspent criminal convictions can cause havoc for landlords, as they can make their insurance invalid.
You’re not legally required to check if your tenant has a conviction. However, many insurance providers insist you inform them if anyone with a conviction is living in the property.
Some insurance providers may refuse the tenant altogether, while others may increase your premium.
Run Thorough Checks
When it comes to a tenant with previous convictions, being thorough is key.
Don’t take any information at face value, always gather the facts for yourself. If anything seems unclear or vague, ensure you get to the bottom of it.
Meet the Tenant More Than Once
Form your own opinion of the tenant! Remember, you’re letting to a person, so building a relationship is highly important.
Meet them multiple times if possible, and decide for yourself whether you’d like to let to them.
To Let or Not to Let?
While many landlords have their reservations, there are some undeniable positives to letting to tenants with a criminal history:
- May encourage a longer-term tenancy, particularly if they’ve struggled to find somewhere to rent previously
- Builds trust with your tenant, helping to create a positive relationship
- Encourages the tenant to stay loyal, reducing the risk of void periods
You need to weigh up what’s right for you, considering all the factors mentioned above.
Need Help Safeguarding Your Property?
Regardless of who you let to, you need to ensure your property is being looked after properly.
From check in to check out, our property inventory services can help. We’ll make sure you’re compliant with safety regulations. We’ll also reduce the risk of disputes and ensure the terms of the tenancy agreement are being met! Hassle-free renting has benefits for everyone – so we’ll help you get there.