10 Million People now live in private rented accommodation, double the number in 2000. This week I want to highlight just how important it is for Landlords to reference tenants prior to agreeing to a tenancy. It continues to shock me how many Landlords in the private rental sector are indeed Landlords that are willing to handover their keys to unscrupulous agents that don’t follow the correct channels and ascertain that the tenants they intend to rent to are in fact firstly able to afford the rent and secondly have no history of bad debt. Pre-empting the risk by performing a professional tenant check can help manage your tenant risk more effectively, raising awareness of a potentially bad tenant and allowing the option to put into place measures such as insurance and rent guarantees. An applicant may seem like a genuine hard working person but the reference process can sometimes uncover a less than desirable history. The referencing process checks whether they have a poor credit history, had action taken against them for non-payment of rent and confirms they really are who they say they are. The checks also give a strong indication of financial strength – essential to provide reassurance to Landlords that their investment is protected. If the applicant turns out to be in temporary employment or financially weak then it is advisable to add a guarantor to the Tenancy Agreement. However it is equally important to ensure the Guarantor earns sufficient income to provide that extra security if the tenant defaults. Your property is your investment and just as a company wouldn’t appoint a new member of staff without first requesting a reference you shouldn’t agree to let someone live in your property without knowing they can afford to pay the rent. No doubt you have heard the horror stories of Landlords discovering that their property has been used as a Cannabis factory, or other dubious activities, don’t become a victim of such consequences when prevention is so easy. Using a Professional ARLA (Association of Residential Lettings) regulated Agent will help prevent this and if you must rent privately yourself then do go down the correct channels and reach out to one of the many professional tenant referencing companies to prevent anguish later.