Letting agents vetting systems

by Readers Question

15:00 PM, 25th November 2013
About 7 years ago

Letting agents vetting systems

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Letting agents vetting systems

I use letting agent to find my tenants and have recently used one of the big companies in my area.

They found a tenant and carried out the vetting and paperwork etc, since the tenant moved in he hasn’t paid any rent. When I asked for a copy of the paperwork they had on file I was sent the credit file, application form, an out of date passport, 1 page of a bank statement and two references.

I have my suspicions that the references are fake and have asked if there should be more statements to show rent out and salary in, and payslips … but they don’t get these. I am quite surprised that these weren’t checked as part of the process as anyone can cobble a reference together. Letting agents vetting systems

Is this normal, and where do I stand with them if it’s not ?

Thanks

Julie


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Comments

15:06 PM, 25th November 2013
About 7 years ago

Hi Julie

Start by asking them for a copy of their complaints procedure, whether they have one or not make a written complaint. They will probably want you to refer your complaint to an Ombudsman or a trade body if they are a member if they can't settle it. If I were you I would go to the Small Claims Court to claim for compensation as opposed to the Ombudsman or the professional bodies. Make sure your claim is less than £10,000 and that you can prove how much money you have lost. Claim only for that, forget stress etc. as that complicates matters. The grounds for the claim is professional negligence.

In future, make sure that referencing is linked back to underwriting of Rent Guarantee Insurance, whether you intend to purchase it or not.

The link below explains what we do, hope you find it helpful.
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Malcolm Ingham

16:03 PM, 25th November 2013
About 7 years ago

Referencing via letting agents leaves a lot to be desired. A tenant of mine has just left with no forwarding address and owing a few thousand. Prior to the beginning of the tenancy, the agent told me that the prospective tenant was a builder and had just sold his house, therefore he needed to rent a house while he searched for a new property. Hence no reference from a former landlord.

As the tenant has now left, owing rent, I asked the agent if at the time of referencing they had checked the tenant's story to prove he had just sold his house. It is not their practice to do that. Wouldn't it be so easy to do?.

I have gleaned from neighbours that the tenant has now moved to another property, in another village, and used the same story about having just sold a house. (He would not have got a good reference from me.) Also he is not a builder, he just works for one. I am now receiving Removal of Goods notices and notices of court action for a tenant to whom I cannot send them.

So much for the referencing process! How about agents sharing details of bad tenants. I suppose that would be against the data protection act and the tenant's human rights! What about us landlords? We was robbed!

Yvette Newbury

17:04 PM, 25th November 2013
About 7 years ago

I appreciate this does not help your situation right now but please, to all who use a letting agent, please ensure you get the references and all other relevant information from the agency BEFORE you agree to the tenancy ie. before they hand the keys to them. It is far easier to get this from the agent before rather than afterwards. In the past I have struggled to even get the tenancy agreement from them after the tenancy has commenced. You will need the information contained in the Agreement in order to secure the tenancy deposit which really does need to be done by you, the Landlord, and not the Agent as at the end of the day it is you who will be punished if your Agent does not do it.

Turning to your present problem - what is the minimum rental period for this tenancy eg. 6 months fixed? If you are not happy with the information you have received, and if the tenants are not forthcoming about their situation or the rent, then serve a Section 21 notice on them to expire at the end of the fixed term. Learn from this and move on.

If you are not happy with the references, or feel there is something missing, then ask the Agent to obtain the information you are missing from the tenants. If your Agent will not agree to the above, choose a different one!

Yvette Newbury

17:15 PM, 25th November 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Malcolm Ingham" at "25/11/2013 - 16:03":

Malcolm, if you have a rough idea of where they are it would be well worth using a tracing agent to find them. Once you have an address you can then inform all those chasing of where they are so that they stop sending the mail to you, plus put in a Money claim for what they owe you. I would also then contact the owner of the present house they are renting, stating that you understand that they had rented their house to Mr X and that you are a previous Landlord and please, if they ever have any problems with their tenant they may like to contact you for further information and leave your contact details. I did this years ago in a similar situation and two months later that Landlord called me back! It took a long time but I have now obtained ALL money owed from the absconding tenant. The Landlord that I called that day unfortunately went bankrupt and lost his business and his house thanks to this tenant not vacating his house and not paying the rent. We were glad that at least he was out of your house and you were lucky too, Malcolm.

The solicitors we contacted us warned us not to "throw good money after bad" but we pursued this tenant because we felt an obligation to the Landlords that would follow us, that would have the same problem we did with this serial non-paying renter.

Definitely get a tracing agent, you will feel much better for taking action!

Yvette Newbury

17:22 PM, 25th November 2013
About 7 years ago

... I seem to be a bit fired up today!

Paul Routledge

18:09 PM, 25th November 2013
About 7 years ago

When Landlords are taking tenants they need to make sure the tenant they are being given is up to the standard you require and even if they are using an agent. There is nothing stopping you telling your agent that you want to reference your tenant yourself and with http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk new F.A.I.R - A New Era of transparent referencing you can get a Financial report up to 9 linked addresses, the UK’s only lifestyle reference from any previous landlord who may have had problems and launched today a one click employers and previous Landlord (as given by the tenant) reference for just £12 which even includes the VAT..

There is absolutely no reason any landlord needs to take a bad tenant anymore and if your agent does not like it then change your agent, just remember when you take a bad tenant it is your tenant and not the agents they will bear no financial responsibility when it goes bad.

http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/discuss/community-forum/f-a-i-r-a-new-era-of-transparent-referencing/

12:51 PM, 26th November 2013
About 7 years ago

Hi everyone,
I'll be honest i havent read all of the comments... but this is my personal experience as a tenant

I rented a property on a let only basis through a local well established letting agency.
They charged me £150 for admin and referencing

They never referenced me! yes they did a very basic credit check - but my previous landlord nor my employer were contacted to varify me as a previous tenant and or my salary.

I took this up with them via their complaints procedure, only to be told and i quote "as an agency we can charge the fees we wish regardless of the level of service we carry out"

I took this to the Obusdman....... Useless..... they investigated and then said as the letting agent had given me a reason - albeit a cr*p one - they didnt feel there was a complaint to answer.

I as a tenant am still fuming that i paid for something that never happened - also to date i have still not received a signed copy of the AST
But I feel more for my LL, especially as it was a Tenant find service only - my poor LL would have no leg to stand on if id have been a bad tenant.

sorry for the rant 🙂

Edwin Cowper

18:08 PM, 26th November 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Julie Ford" at "26/11/2013 - 12:51":

I wonder how much you dislike the agents?

There is a legal maxim (ie principle) that an agent cannot make a secret profit. An agent is exactly that. Unless it has agreed with the landlord that it can charge for referencing,then it generally should account to the landlord for the profit. Why? Because it is acting as his agent,

If the landlord's agreement says the agent is going to find a tenant and charges him for that, the Landlord is on solid ground.

I have found a number of cases where the Landlord has been entitled to claim. So tell your landlord and give the agent some well deserved grief

12:49 PM, 27th November 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Edwin Cowper" at "26/11/2013 - 18:08":

HI Edwin,
Thank you for your reply

Could you please clarify - sorry if im being a little thivk (well i am blonde)
So if the agent is charging the LL for a Tenant find service - it can not then inturn charge the applicant a referencing fee?? have i got that right?

Romain Garcin

13:11 PM, 27th November 2013
About 7 years ago

If an agent makes a profit for himself without the knowledge and agreement of his principal, i.e. if he makes a secret profit, then my understanding is that, among other things, the money is actually owed by the agent to the principal.
So my understanding is that if an agent charges fees to tenants as part of the job he is doing on behalf of a landlord and the landlord didn't know and agree to it, the landlord can demand that this extra money be paid to him.

That's be a fun letter for a landlord to send a letting agent IMHO.

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