Tenant Reference Requested?

by Readers Question

11:28 AM, 15th January 2021
About 2 months ago

Tenant Reference Requested?

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Tenant Reference Requested?

After a number of years letting out my house, I have just had to supply a landlord reference for the tenant for her new property. The company advert states “delivers high-quality services to letting agents helping them win clients, protect their landlords, provide a great service to tenants and grow their business.”

I was actually amazed by how little information I had to supply as a landlord, and the fact the call, was never verified whether it was the actual landlord who was speaking or a friend who just phoned up, as they were expecting the call.

Simply put, it was a waste of time and there was no check at all. So remember, you get what you pay for in this referencing game.

Saying that my tenant does deserve a good reference for simply being one of those hard-working employees of the NHS. Sorry to see you go and all the best in your new home.

Peter

Comments

Ron H-W

12:35 PM, 15th January 2021
About 2 months ago

So you called the (referencing) company, rather than them calling you.
Unless you witheld your number, this would show up on any caller identification display, so they might well have checked that the number was as expected.
That said, the questions are often minimal: to confirm that the applicant had indeed been a tenant (and the dates), also whether the rent was regularly paid on time.
Did they ask anything else?

Ian Cognito

13:24 PM, 15th January 2021
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ron H-W at 15/01/2021 - 12:35
Peter's point was that the telephone number was supplied by the tenant and so could have been that of a friend rather than the previous landlord.

Rennie

14:13 PM, 15th January 2021
About 2 months ago

My letting agent obtained a reference for a potential tenant. They told me the tenant had passed. I asked for a copy of the reference which they sent me.
I read it and had a few questions so I phoned the reference company and asked for 3 months bank statements, what exactly do they do to reference a tenant, how they had verified that they were talking to the "real" landlord and if they had also obtained a reference from the previous landlord.

They said the tenant could possibly refuse to provide the bank statements and I insisted they ask. I also asked them to recontact the previous landlord and ask why the tenant is leaving and the same question to the tenant.

They did all of this and got back to me. They were surprised that I asked anything at all but they complied without any problem. So I suggest all landlords make a point of asking at least something even if they don't want to know. It will improve the quality of referencing

TinaShoebb

14:34 PM, 15th January 2021
About 2 months ago

The only way to ensure a tenant is properly referenced is to do it yourself!

Smartermind

16:33 PM, 15th January 2021
About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rennie at 15/01/2021 - 14:13
My son lets out a property which I help him manage. in 2019 we used an online reference agency to reference a potential tenant and the agency claimed that the tenant passed with flying colours. However, I was a little suspicious especially as the person who did the viewing (with someone who he claimed was his daughter, but didn't appear to be anything like him) and the actual tenant that was going to "move in" were not the same person - they claimed the tenant was busy working down South and had to move in quickly, hence why "a friend" did the viewing. Long story short, I did some digging of my own and found that the tenant had supplied fake bank statements, fake employee pay slips and they even used a fake employer's website. A bit of Googling showed the employer didn't actually exist - it was just a sham website.

We declined the tenant's application and he then became abusive making threats. We think the tenant was a front for some illegal activity. Reported it to police, but the police did not follow up.

So, in my opinion online reference agencies are worthless. They just ring up a number provided without making any checks to see if it is legitimate.

Jessie Jones

8:31 AM, 16th January 2021
About 2 months ago

I have a great tenant who works for a company that make very high end cars and aeroplane engines. The employer reference was sent to their personel dept who simply passed it on to the tenant to complete themselves! It was the tenant that told me this on the day they were moving in.
So even if the referencing agent is doing their job properly, it doesn't prove anything.
But what a reference does do, is ensure that the terms and conditions of insurance policies are complied with, so it the tenant destroys your house you are not left totally out of pocket.

Gary Nock

9:48 AM, 16th January 2021
About 2 months ago

Okay. So I am both a landlord and an agent. We use a company called Let Alliance and the full reference costs about £20. For that they check the applicants credit record, address, employers and salary. The salary is verified via the employer, who themselves are checked to ensure they are bona-fide. Increasingly these days the salary is also verified via Open Source banking which gives the referencing company time limited read only access to the applicants bank account. It's only the same as providing bank statements but quicker.

All for £20. On top of this they offer a " global ID" service for another £16 which checks Right To Rent by checking the ID documents for any "discrepancies" I know you can get basic references done for £5. But you only get what you pay for.

Gary Nock

10:12 AM, 16th January 2021
About 2 months ago

And to add to the above. We also get asked for references from tenants which should be supplementary to the full referencing process. And yes they only ask three questions. 1. Has the tenant paid the rent on time? 2. Have they looked after the property? 3. Would you rent to them again?

If any of the answers are no then it should be very unlikely that the applicant would be successful. Certainly would not with us.

Kate Mellor

13:19 PM, 16th January 2021
About 2 months ago

I was once asked questions about the date we purchased the property. Clearly the reference company had checked the land registry to try and ensure they were indeed speaking with the landlord.

Jon D

20:38 PM, 17th January 2021
About 2 months ago

I would be far more concerned that the tenant passed landlord's details to another party without consent. But it is commonplace, yet wrong in terms of data privacy. Of course, you may have consented. Which begs the question, where does your (landlord) data end up and how is it used?

This third party now has landlord's name, phone, address, length of tenancy. HMRC legislated that all lettings agents must provide landlord details on changeover, or so I read. So now HMRC also know how long you have been letting and can cross-check with your tax return. A warning for cash landlords!

But anyway, perhaps a reminder clause in the AST: "The tenant must not provide landlord's data to any third party, including reference checks, without consent."

And another good reason to rent as a Ltd Co and sit behind the company.

So few people are thinking in terms of data privacy and they really should start to think!


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