Farce of credit searches and court judgements

by Readers Question

9:15 AM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Farce of credit searches and court judgements

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Farce of credit searches and court judgements

It is supposed to be easy to find out if a prospective tenant has any county court judgements and general poor credit, but this is not the case.bad experience

CCJ’s are supposed to follow you around like a “bad smell”, and yet the reality is very different. Experian state they are informed of all CCJ’s for a particular person and yet if the person decides to use a series of addresses, that information seems to get lost. Experian will not comment, surprise!

The moral of this is FULL REFERENCING, including not only the “friends and family” address, but the one before that, and the one before that one as well.

Prospective landlords, ask for a credit report, Noddle do one for free, it will have all the address information going back years, I know, mine has.

Just don’t rely on a simple reference, done on the quick by a letting agent, whose only concern is to get a tenant into your property, and get their fee.

Stephen



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:17 AM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Stephen,

A full Experian search which is what I used to use many moons ago in the bank is quite different to the recent credit checks you can get online these days.

I am sensing you have had a bad experience and would you like to share what happened?

Mark Lynham

10:30 AM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

as a letting agent i find your last sentence somewhat offensive. Clearly you've had a bad experience but dont tar us all with the same brush...

Neil Patterson

11:01 AM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Yes Mark I should think a bad tenant is an agent's worst nightmare.

Jan Martin

15:47 PM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Stephen I agree it is very hard to reference new tenants.I myself am finding that people have more debt leaving them with CCJ'S too.
After I get my credit report I then look on Trust Online as very often I find that CCJ's show up on there that sometimes dont show on other reports. Also the original address from the CCJ doesnt automatically follow to new addresses the creditor has to update for that to happen . You also get the situation where the creditor gets a CCJ but doesnt ask for it to be registered and the courts do not automatically register without you asking so they dont show up on a credit check .Moneyclaim register.
My own experience with agents carrying out checks hasnt been very good but again when its your own property you are going to be far more particular .
I recently had an experience where a tenant gave notice over 2 months before end of contract . She had found a suitable property and didnt want to loose it .I was concerned on her being able to meet the costs of running both properties as the agent had allowed her the new tenancy and didnt even know she had a contract with me . Tenant had been with me 2 years.
I have another ex tenant who has now got a new tenancy with an agent and has 6 county court judgements. I gave her 3 myself .
I can give many experiences of ex tenants moving into properties through agents who I myself would not take on .
I would always carry out my own checks and have for many years now . But no you dont always get the full picture and that can change over time anyway . You just have to put procedures into place incase things go pearshaped.

Sarah Fowler

17:36 PM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Interesting. We have a tenant who was ordered by the county court to pay us over £4,000 in rent arrears at the end of November. We still haven't managed to get him evicted and nothing shows up on Trust Online. Do we have to ask the court to register to get this?

Jan Martin

18:45 PM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sarah Fowler" at "21/02/2017 - 17:36":

You have to write to the court with ref etc and ask them to register the judgement .Take it in is the best way .

Monty Bodkin

22:05 PM, 21st February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jan Martin" at "21/02/2017 - 18:45":

Sorry Jan, that is wrong.
Some judgements are registered automatically, some need to be enforced (with further cost to the claimant).
Nothing to do with just asking the court to do so.
As per the title, the system is a farce;

https://www.trustonline.org.uk/understand-judgments-fines/entries-on-the-england-and-wales-register/ccjs-and-the-register

"To be capable of being registered the judgment must either have been issued in default (i.e a judgment without trial where no defence was entered) or else defended and payment is by instalment order or where enforcement action is being taken. (There are other conditions and exemptions and for the full list of criteria please refer to the latest statutory instrument relating to the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines Regulations)."

Stephen Smith

8:42 AM, 22nd February 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi,

Advertised on Gumtree for tenants, absolutely inundated with "letting agents" saying they had tenants waiting. Letting Agents arrive, one with 4 mobile phones, shuffling them as we were speaking, I asked him why so many phones? No real answer, however he was advertising rooms to rent in houses that he had, conclusion? He intended to do the same with this one. Asked to leave.

Another agent arrived, same old spiel, tenants waiting, fully referenced etc. I asked him to send over the references. Three evidences of address, only problem was, they were different addresses!! Bank statement with no money in it, obviously a dormant account. I asked the agent what he was playing at? He suggested he try again, I, needless to say, said "don't bother" .

In response to the advert, two men arrived, followed by two girls, dressed as "ladies of the night". Again, asked to leave.

Agent arrives, with £3000 in cash, insisting we sign immediately, my wife being there at the time. She felt very intimidated. Agent eventually left.

Let to Lithuanian couple, with her father, references seemed OK. But terrible trouble trying to get the deposit money back from the agent, but this seems commonplace!

However father left and then the problems of sub-letting started. I suspected all was not all it seemed, others in the property, temporary bedding etc. I then did a check on Google against his phone number and found that he was advertising rooms on Lithuanian websites!

I asked my wife to do an immediate inspection, she found all the rooms were being used as bedrooms, Tenant asked to leave. Damage to various rooms, Cracked toilet pan. Just about to get judgement after 3 years, Yes, 3 years. Had to deal with an ambulance chasing lawyer who seemed determined to morph the defence into one of "disrepair", reserving the "right" to amend the defence. Pointed out to him that amending the defence amounted to a deception to the court. Challenged him to provide evidence of the disrepair, he declined and oddly, now does not represent his client.

Edmonton County Court, don't ask!! So useless.

Repairs done, Let again through an agent we met in the first debacle. My wife wasn't well enough to do a repeat of the Gumtree advert, and, as it seemed to have its problems, decided to use the agent.

Stipulations to the agent; All references to be passed by me before the tenancy. What actually happened is that I signed the contract, and he passed over the keys, Job done. Money in the bank!

Furious, I demanded the references be sent over. Evidence of address was a mobile phone contract. Passport doesn't state address, no bank statements, no electoral role, no employer letter etc. Had a go at the agents, had a go at the referencing company, Paragon, who stated that although they could find no evidence of address, since he had applied for a mobile phone at the given address, that this was sufficient???

Yes, you guessed, he turned the place into a cannabis farm.

Got court judgement against him. Sheriffs Office state that he seems to have had 4 addresses that they are aware of, but is now settled in North London, now married, trying to be all legal. Interestingly, the house he is renting belongs to the owner of the company which gave him the false employers reference, But, you guessed correctly, the Metropolitan police aren't interested in trying to prove complicity in a fraud, or money laundering, against the owner of the house, and yes, he is an Estate Agent that also deal in lettings.

But, no court judgement at this address.

I sure people will say that all this just a one off, however facts state that as much as 40% of the properties in London suffer from sub-letting. The incidence of cannabis farms are on the increase. But if we had a system where agents were legally contracted to obtain full correct certifiable references, these problems would be minimised, rather than just handing out the keys, collecting the money from the deposit and first month's rent and moving on, with the attitude that the problem is someone else's, but however, "we did our best"

Well, I am sorry, but you DID NOT.

Stephen

Gary Nock

9:47 AM, 22nd February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Lynham" at "21/02/2017 - 10:30":

Steohen / Mark I have some sympathy with you both. And I am an agent as well. Started out letting my own because I wasn't happy with the service from my agent - particularly on tenant quality. And they suffered from the "anyone will do" approach. Mark Alexander put me on the right track to do my own letting. So when I do my own and my landlords I have a "comprehensive" reference done including Experian checks, last three addresses, employer reference, previous agent reference - plus I do social media vetting. And if they fail on earnings ratios then its a guarantor who is comprehensively referenced and signs a Deed of Guarantee. Then if they get through all that a rent insurance guarantee policy is taken out. In 15 years of being a landlord across my own 10 properties I have had 2 evictions. In 5 years of being an agent across 30 properties I have had none. And by letting my own I meet the tenants or prospective tenants and very quickly work them out. Okay the levels of default may not justify rent insurance across the whole of our personal and lettings portfolios but my landlords and I can sleep at night. The total annual premium for my block policy is approximately equal to the cost of one eviction. I know some sectors of the landlord game such as benefits tenants may not lend themselves to such an approach - but I am comfortable with what I do and how I do it. So Stephen - I agree with Mark that not all agents are the same - but equally and ultimately it is you as the landlord who carrys the can if the agent gets a " wrong un". Check what referencing system the agent uses and how good it is. And do your own social media vetting. You will be surprised what you find as an " open source" resource.

Sarah Fowler

11:04 AM, 23rd February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Monty Bodkin" at "21/02/2017 - 22:05":

Yes, when I contacted Trust Online this is what they said:
"Possession orders can be registered if they are for a monetary award; however they are only recorded on the public Register if action has been taken to enforce payment of the monetary award"
The question is How can I enforce payment if the tenant doesn't give a forwarding address?
I now understand why his credit report is fine. The law really is on the side of the rogue tenant.

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