Tenant Credit Checks
Property management and letting may seem like easy money from the outside, but nothing is further from the truth. As a landlord or an estate agent, you will know the countless regulations you need to comply with and that fulfilling your obligations as a landlord isn’t cheap.
In addition, you also need to protect yourself from the nightmare that is renting your property to the “wrong” tenant. The law is very protective of their rights, and evicting them for non-payment is an expensive and lengthy process, especially if there are children or vulnerable adults involved, at the end of which you won’t necessarily recover the arrears.
Your first concern will therefore be, of course, to ascertain whether potential tenants are financially stable, but this is only the tip of the iceberg: the fact that the rent is being paid regularly will be of little comfort if your property has been turned into a hub of criminal activity!
However services such as ConsumerCheck.com can help landlords with instant .
As far-fetched as it may sound, recent reports estimate that half a million suburban properties have been transformed into hidden cannabis factories by drug gangs, while other criminals have set up human trafficking operations or have been subletting rental properties to illegal immigrants and exploiting them.
As a landlord or letting agent, you have access rights, but these are however restricted: you must give notice and the frequency of your inspections must be reasonable so you may not always be aware of what is happening. There is also nothing easier for a tenant than to change the lock, thus preventing you from entering the premises. And in extreme cases, attempts to thwart criminals in their activities may simply put you in danger.
Vetting and Checking Within the Law
While most tenants are honest and respectable, screening them is so simple and inexpensive, and the consequences of not vetting them potentially so catastrophic that you shouldn’t hesitate. Furthermore, if you are a letting agent, failing to check a tenant adequately could make you liable to financial compensation towards the landlord, as well as put you in breach of professional standards.
While tenant referencing is legitimate, it is also important to remember that this data is covered by and the Data Protection Act, as it will give you access to private information.
You must have the tenant’s permission, in writing, to perform a credit check, and you will need to register with the Public Register.
Once you are registered you can use online companies such as or to perform tenant referencing for a reasonable fee so they are definitely worth considering.
A tenant report will provide you with a wealth of information which will allow you to make the right decision, from identity check, to previous addresses, financial worthiness and employment history. The data is extracted from various official sources such as the Electoral Roll, County Court Judgements and GAIN (Gone Away Information Network), an invaluable resource on individuals with outstanding debts who have moved away without leaving a forwarding address.
Previous addresses are very informative. While geographical mobility is common nowadays, a tenant moving too often may be bad news. It could be a sign of financial instability, or that previous landlords declined to renew their tenancy as they were undesirable. From your point of view as a landlord or a letting agent, it will also mean that the applicant may not stay long in your property and that you may have to go through the whole process of finding a new tenant sooner than you would like, which means potentially a vacant property and loss of income.
This example shows a typical on a potential tenant.
Tenant references and other ways to check
Landlords may consider asking for references from previous landlords, employers and accountants, as well as checking a guarantor’s financial worthiness when applicable. For more tips you may like to consider these 7 ways to .
Armed with this information, you will be in a much better position to form a picture of who your prospective tenants are and their suitability.
See more credit tips and information