Referencing before viewings – everyone’s a winner!

Referencing before viewings – everyone’s a winner!

11:13 AM, 20th March 2015, About 9 years ago 21

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I recently wrote about a scenario where I had 60 viewing requests and 19 viewings in one dayReferencing before viewings - everyone's a winner

Great you may think, and yes it was 🙂 Demand was high and two people even ended up offering me £75 pcm over the asking price.

HOWEVER, the first couple failed referencing due to having three months rent arrears and the second couple failed due to an undisclosed CCJ. This cost me time and has lead to an unwelcome delay and void period.

Thankfully the third person referenced up and is now proceeding at £25 over asking price – PHEW!

It got me thinking though, and I have suggested this to the Directors at

Where demand is so high, why not offer the interested parties an option to get ahead of the game by charging them a small fee for refencing in advance of viewing the property? Clearly this will only work when demand is very high because some prospective tenants will not go for it. That doesn’t have to exclude them from viewing though.

My other thought is that tenants could be given a copy of their reference. This could come in very handy for them when they go to meet other landlords and agents too. If the reference doesn’t make for good reading at least they will know.

For me, as a landlord, it potentially speeds up the entire process.

For the agent it saves wasting time and earns them extra money.

From what I can see, everyone’s a winner.

What are your thoughts?


Mark Alexander – founder of and non-Exec Director (Consultant) to


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9:21 AM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

I just see six months bank statements before making any decision. If they wont show them to me I won't consider them - simples..... and it works every time.


Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

9:43 AM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "21/03/2015 - 09:21":

It's a great strategy RO1, just like visiting them at their current home.

If you explain that you need to see proof of their income going into their bank account there usually isn't too much of an issue unless they have something to hide.


10:45 AM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "21/03/2015 - 09:43":

Home visit, agreed. I always take the draft contract to their existing home (as long as it is a reasonable distance), to see how they live with the excuse of going through it with them.

I don't usually tell them that I want to see their salary going in, I tell them it will save them the time and expense of obtaining a Bankers Ref, but of course I do then see their salary coming in and extrapolate it out to see exactly what they earn before taxes etc so I know immediately if they try to lie on their application form. I also send copies of this statement to the referencing agency so if they fail to do their job properly (& I have two instances where they have), I can take action against them if something should go wrong.

I have a motto - ""never blindly trust so-called "professionals"", I see their order of priority as:-

1 To protect themselves personally and professionally
2 To earn as much income as possible
3 To protect their own income and their family's wealth
4 To protect their employer (or firm)
5 To protect their client

How low down the list the client comes..... a reason for so many miss-selling claims etc., and I'm sure others could add more steps before protection of client. Professional indemnity insurance sounds great but is useless to a great extent as you have to prove loss before they will pay out - and anyone who has tried to claim will know how difficult this is and how many years a case can drag on with no guaranteed successful outcome.


Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

10:59 AM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "r01 " at "21/03/2015 - 10:45":

.... and that's why Rent Guarantee Insurance is also a very useful and inexpensive add-on to referencing. I appreciate that larger landlords often self-underwrite the risks and until recently I was one of those. However, I'm getting to a stage in life now where I don't want risks or hassle so all new tenancies are only agreed where I can get RGI. That doesn't detract from the other stuff though, home visits and bank statements are still very much a part of my belt and braces approach to my self-preservation risk management strategy.

Michael Barnes

11:54 AM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

Back to your original proposal, I can see it being useful if
1. the original is addressed to the tenant, and
2. for a SMALL extra fee a copy can be provided addressed to the landlord, and
3. it is the landlord that requests the copy (to ensure no fraud by tenant).

The tenant can then use his/her copy when viewing multiple properties to give the landlord a warm feeling (which isn't trickling down his leg).

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:58 AM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes" at "21/03/2015 - 11:54":

All good points Michael.

What I had envisaged is....

1) the agent instructing a rent guarantee provider to complete the referencing. This way it is independent and if RGI is offered this provides additional reassurance

2) Copies of the reference and RGI offer (if applicable) being made available to both the landlord and the tenant. Both would have to agree to this of course!

Michael Barnes

12:36 PM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

Sounds like a reasonable proposition.

(at least) Two hurdles to jump:

1. Making tenants aware of it (but benefit to them is that landlord/agent does not add a handling fee).

2. Getting Agents to accept it.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

15:34 PM, 21st March 2015, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes" at "21/03/2015 - 12:36":

I only Need to convince one agent, mine 🙂

Michael Barnes

11:40 AM, 23rd March 2015, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "21/03/2015 - 15:34":

My intended point was that prospective tenants may be using several agents, so for them it would be necessary for the agent they finally rent from to accept this "pre-reference", otherwise there is nothing in it financially for the prospective tenant: they will pay two referencing charges.

I think it generally sounds like a great idea/business opportunity, but it seems to me that it needs to be portable, not tied to one agent.

(If I have a tendancy to sound negative at times it is because my brain works on 'what can go wrong'; 'what can go right' needs little consideration because it will not bite me later)

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:22 PM, 23rd March 2015, About 9 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes" at "23/03/2015 - 11:40":

Hi Michael

This isn't so much about having a reference that's portable for tenants, I doubt other agents would agree to that anyway. It's about giving themselves the best possible opportunity to get ahead of the game where demand for a particular property is strong. Further advantages to them are that they will have a very good idea of where they are likely to stand in terms of referencing if they do approach other agents and landlords will waste a lot less time showing their properties to no-hopers.

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