Recommendations for International Tenant Referencing?

by Readers Question

10:49 AM, 29th April 2016
About 2 years ago

Recommendations for International Tenant Referencing?

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Recommendations for International Tenant Referencing?

Can anyone recommend a good referencing agency for tenants who have recently lived overseas? I am only aware of one, TenantVerify, and am unable to find any reviews, positive or negative.austin powers

The tenants I have in mind come from Romania, and all I can find about tenant referencing within Romania is from this EU document http://www.tenlaw.uni-bremen.de/Brochures/RomaniaBrochure_09052014.pdf which I believe dates from 2012. The document states, “Private credit reference agencies keeping records on individuals are not present in Romania. The Credit Bureau is only accessible by banks and other financial institutions ” so in other words, it’s only possible to run a basic credit check, no employer, character or previous landlord checks in Romania, at least according to that.

I would like to state, for the record, that I have absolutely no problem with renting to tenants from abroad, and have a current long term tenant from Poland who is great, and until recently had an equally brilliant tenant from the Czech Republic. What I DO have a problem with is not being able to rigorously reference a tenant, for whatever reason.

I can’t help thinking about the recent case of Landlord Stung (in which Landlord Action got involved http://www.property118.com/using-the-rent-to-keep-up-with-the-joness/82893/), who let to a couple of British teachers who had recently immigrated back to the UK after living several years in Abu Dhabi, then found the insurers would not pay out against his rent guarantee policy because the tenants had been living in a country where they couldn’t be thoroughly referenced…

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Mandy



Comments

Mandy Thomson

17:31 PM, 29th April 2016
About 2 years ago

Despite the fact that so many tenants and lodgers in the UK are recent immigrants, the amount and quality of information on referencing overseas seems very limited.

I now know there are more referencing agencies that do them, such as RentChecks.com, but whereas tenant referencing in this country is becoming increasingly transparent and comprehensive as the PRS grows and more landlords conduct their own, it seems all but impossible to lift the veil on tenant referencing overseas (apart from somewhere such as the US where I've no doubt they're ahead of the UK). The EU document I've referred to in my OP above is the only insight I can find into the Romanian system, and it doesn't inspire confidence.

After I wrote this post, I phoned Tenant Verify. The gentleman was very helpful, but he couldn't tell me how the Romanian referencing system works - indeed, I seemed to know more than him, after having read the "Tenant's Rights Brochure for Romania" which he was unaware of. He suggested the best way around the problem was for the prospective tenants to get a UK based guarantor, which is highly unlikely as they've only lived in the UK for 6 months, and their families live in Romania. RGI was naturally out of the question.

After learning this, I immediately contacted the prospective tenants and told them I couldn't rent to them because of the inability to obtain a full reference based on their short time in the UK and complicated further by the fact that they are both self employed. There were one or two other red flags which have nothing to do with their nationality that were preying on my mind too (which I didn't mention).

In the past, I used very expensive high street agents to find previous tenants, and they did a very good job, but this time around, I felt this was an expense I couldn't justify. Anyone using an online advertising service needs to be aware that they need to further filter out unsuitable applicants by asking them to verify certain criteria such as length of time in job - unbelievably, although the service I'm using does offer the option of some filtering, this crucial question is not included. I also broke one of the fundamental rules of tenant finding - NEVER offer a tenancy at viewing (certainly not first viewing)!

I've had to learn this the hard way after wasting my time (which is money when you need to fill a void) and letting down two very keen applicants.

Mark Alexander

7:43 AM, 30th April 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "29/04/2016 - 17:31":

My suggestion would be to use a referencing company who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is by offering RGI on the back of their referencing.
.

Mark Alexander

7:43 AM, 30th April 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "29/04/2016 - 17:31":

My suggestion would be to use a referencing company who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is by offering RGI on the back of their referencing.
.

Mandy Thomson

8:16 AM, 30th April 2016
About 2 years ago

Good point, Mark. I've never had RGI before (I let my first property in 2011 and have only ever had long term tenancies and never had problems with my tenants) but I have heard it's easier to claim if you've done the referencing with the same RGI provider.

However, poor Landlord Stung DID take out RGI with his reference provider, and still had the insurer turn down his claim because the tenants were previously based in Abu Dhabi, a country with very limited referencing of any kind. I did raise the point in a comment to the post about why the insurer accepted his application in the first place, given that fact, but he didn't post back about how he got on after (presumably) raising that with them.

Rob Crawford

8:51 AM, 8th May 2016
About 2 years ago

Many countries do not amass the same degree of financial data on their population as we do in the UK. A credit check company may ask the question and get a positive result only because any negative data is simply not collated. I don't take on any tenants who do not have a UK bank account and at least 12 months good credit in the UK. I doubt any referencing company will offer RGI on non national tenants - but its a good question to ask as a test on robustness of the check!

Mandy Thomson

10:26 AM, 8th May 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Rob Crawford" at "08/05/2016 - 08:51":

Thanks for the useful tips, Rob. I agree, at least one year in the UK with a UK bank account should be the minimal requirement.

You CAN get RGI on tenants from overseas (for example, TenantVerify offer a policy provided the tenants pass referencing with them) but as Landlord Stung found to his cost, these won't necessarily pay out.

I was speaking on the phone on Friday (about referencing in general) to someone from Tenant Referencing (LandlordReferencing.co.uk 's referencing company) and I learned an interesting fact:-

RGI is offered on a SELF CERTIFIED basis - in other words, the beneficiary's word is taken to open the contract, but in the event of a claim, the loss adjusters will dig especially deep to find any reason to deny the claim!


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