Flaw in the Tenancy Referencing Process?

Flaw in the Tenancy Referencing Process?

by Readers Question

Guest Author

8:57 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago 40

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Being a newbie to the rental business, I employed an agent to find me a tenant plus full management of the property. The tenant has now done a ‘flit’ leaving behind all his furniture and unpaid utility bills.

Having done some research on him, I have found out that he has substantial debts/CCJs and had I known about them, I would never have agreed to accept him as a tenant.

I queried this with the agents, who said that they had run a credit check but were not allowed to reveal the bad credit rating due to Data Protection laws. The agents say they have to obtain permission from the tenant before they can give me the credit reference that they obtained.

Surely anyone who has a bad credit rating is never going to give permission for that credit reference to be shared, as no landlord would accept this tenant?

This also allows the agents to put any tenants with very poor credit ratings in any property and then hide behind the Data Protection Laws?

In future, I will know to ask for a copy of the reference and if someone refuses that I will just presume that they aren’t creditworthy. I had thought that the agent was working for me and would protect my interests, I was obviously wrong.


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Graham Bowcock

9:32 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

Sounds like a nonsense to me. The agent is acting as, well, your agent - the clue's in the name. It sounds like the agent isn't very good and is trying to hide their mistake.

Even if GDPR prevented information being passed on (it doesn't), why would they accept such a poor tenant anyway?


9:36 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

I have never heard such rubbish! They are acting as your agent and you have every right to see the data they have obtained in your behalf.

And even in this increasingly insane world if there is a problem with sharing the Data why in gods name did they accept a tenant with such a poor rating?
Unless they have an extremely valid reason for accepting such a poor risk tenant on your behalf i think it is grossly negligent and probably a case for redress against them in the small claim court. Its not very expensive and u can do it yourself if you dont want the witry of legal expenses if you loose.

Im not a legal expert but i manage all my iwn properties because i care a lit more about the quality of my prospective tenant than an agen would ( obviously some agents will do a good job… its finding the good ones!).

This is an old article but i suspect its still mostly valid.

I wouldnt let this rest with exploring my options.

The agent has a fiducuary duty of care which it sounds like they have failed on.



9:37 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

I have never heard of this happening and would be asking the agents to look into what the GDPR legislation actually consists of. You are not a third party, and the agency is not selling you data, you require it for legitimate means. Indeed, they would have passed you other personal information of the tenants, name, previous address etc. to allow you to fulfil your contractual obligations as landlord of the property. I cannot believe that the Credit Referencing Agency used have such restrictions and imagine they would have received their own consent from the applicant to share the information.

Any sensible agent would issue their privacy policy to any interested party at the outset, which would surely include sharing information with their clients, and detailing what information that might be.

If I were you I would not be letting this go, as it sounds like the agents have not been looking after your best interests.


9:38 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

Jane Tomlin

9:59 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by psquared at 29/12/2021 - 09:38
Wow, thank you so much for this. Beautifully explained by Legal Counsel.

Jane Tomlin

10:05 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Graham Bowcock at 29/12/2021 - 09:32
In theory, the agent had rented to this person before and they said there had been no issues with the rent. The agent did not say that there had been no issues with damage to the property or that the tenant had received all their deposit back/paid all their bills etc.
I thought that was rather like a garage selling you a 'cut and shut' and then the garage saying well they had been driving it around for awhile and it hadn't caused them any problems!

Jane Tomlin

10:08 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JTH at 29/12/2021 - 09:37
Thank you. I have consulted a solicitor who thinks I have a case for negligence but I am just getting the info together so far. I believe I have to go through whatever property ombudsman the agent is registered through first.

Denise G

10:29 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

As all of the above replies seem to indicate your agent's attempt to hide behind the GDPR rules is a nonsense, I will share my experience which happened before the GDPR rules were in force ... I had gone to a local estate agent and asked them to find me a tenant for which I had paid them a substantial finders fee.

My tenant then also did a midnight flit - leaving a pile of final demands on the doormat including one from the council which was clearly a council tax demand.
Fortunately he had taken his belongings with him and had done no damage to my property but had simply enjoyed a few month's rent-free accommodation at my expense.

I contacted the agent and asked why had I paid them a finder's fee, which would have included a credit check that they clearly hadn't done, since they had just put 'any old tom, dick or harry with a poor credit history off the street corner' into my property. I reminded them I could have saved their fee and done that myself, but had employed them to avoid exactly the scenario that had occurred.

They refunded their fee


10:36 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

I think they got off lightly. If they refunded the fee its orimae facia evidence that they disnt do their job and i would sugeest ( as a lay person) you have a case for compensation and distress.

The odds are if you take them to small claims they would be likely to pay up as the last thing they need is bad publicity.

Its not hard to do referencing yourself and many reference ageecies for 50-100 will insure you against bad tenants.

If its not offered its a good indication they consider that tenant a poor risk. You either could ask for a suitable guarantor or find a better tenant.

Of course you can still cone unstuck but if you are more proactive and the agent knows it you are less likely to end up in do doo!

Judith Wordsworth

11:41 AM, 29th December 2021, About 3 years ago

Most letting agents have a conflict of interest. They take fees from both the prospective tenant, even if it's called admin fees, and the landlord.
As your agents had let to the tenant before did you get to see the previous landlords reference? Though not worth much if the landlord wanted shot of the tenant. But then your agent would know that wouldn't they.
Does your tenant have professional negligence insurance? A member of any association or trade body? If so contact them.
Have they been in business long? Check on companies house.
Checkout your legal position re disposal of tenant's property.
Is the deposit held on protection? Would trust that your agent, as full management, has disputed repayment.
Utility bills just notify suppliers that the tenant has left without leaving a forwarding address. Though again that should be fine by your agent.
You don't say if the tenant owes you rent or how much of the tenancy has left to run.
Illegal but useful to open post addressed to the tenant especially if debt collectors notifications.
Best of luck and consider if being a landlord is really for you. I've got out after 30 years and now considering buy, do up and sell. Less hassle than tenants, and actually will be a much better return pa even if only doing 1 a year.

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