Tenant Referencing – It’s a ‘must do’ for UK Landlords

tenant referencing

A landlord with 8 years’ experience and 20 properties under her belt, had her worst fears realised when she let out a property to four students without taking proper tenant referencing.

Potential dangers of not carrying out tenant referencing

Although the landlord had requested references from the students she hadn’t had the new tenants properly referenced and later found out that the references she was given were bogus.

On moving into the property the students paid the landlord the deposit and first month’s rent up-front but that was the first and last payment she ever saw. A barrage of excuses as to why the rent hadn’t been paid ensued and the landlord was even accused of harassment on one occasion when she visited the house to request payment.

However, the lack of rent wasn’t the only problem and the landlord started receiving complaints from the students’ neighbours with regard to the rubbish and furniture being dumped in the garden. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse.

After two months with no rent payment, the landlord went to court to apply for an eviction notice but it wasn’t until six months later that she finally received the possession order she needed to claim back her property.  Even though the landlord was relieved to finally be rid of the nuisance tenants on entering the property, with a bailiff by her side, she realised that having the students evicted was only the start of what was going to be a very long and costly journey.

What greeted the landlord when she walked through the door was the stuff of every property owners’ worst nightmare. The damage was extensive, the doors had been removed, carpets, curtains and furniture were ruined and the property needed to be completely re-decorated.

All in all, with the cost of repairs and the loss of rent, the property owner was left £10,500 out of pocket.  She did manage to locate the students and wrote to them but to no avail and discovered afterwards that this was not the first time the students had pulled this kind of stunt.  This is only one of many stories that are publicised within the UK press which adds weight to the absolute necessity for every landlord and landlord to carry out a comprehensive tenant referencing.

What is Tenant Referencing?

Tenant referencing or tenant checks are a means of validating your prospective tenant’s identity, income and employment before handing over the keys. All too often landlords have been ‘stung’ by tenants who have not been able to meet the monthly rent payments or have secured the property under a false identity only to leave it with extensive damage, a pile of unpaid utility bills and no forwarding address. We realise this is a worst-case scenario but it does happen and is it really worth taking the risk when an extensive and thorough tenant referencing check can be carried out for less than £100?

What does a good Tenant Reference report entail?

If a landlord opts for tenant referencing via a professional online letting agent they can expect a thorough investigation into the tenant’s identity, income and financial information, employment and previous rental property addresses. A good tenant referencing report will, quite literally, leave no stone unturned and will expose any issues which could well be a cause for concern.

  • An in depth report will be compiled on the prospective tenant’s employment, position within the company they work for, their contract type, salary and length of time they have worked there.
  • The voters roll will be checked to ascertain the tenant’s previous address/addresses for the past six years and the previous landlord will be contacted to find out if there were any late rent payments, disputes or damage left by the tenants.
  • A credit check will be performed to expose any CCJs (county court judgements), late payments or missing payments and the prospective tenant’s bank details will also be checked to ensure they do actually have an account with that particular branch.
  • The agency will also calculate the tenant’s affordability of the rent amount by multiplying the monthly payments by 30 and matching this against the tenant’s income. Under most circumstances, the tenant will be expected to cover the costs of referencing.

Where can I obtain a Tenant Reference report?

A tenant referencing report can be obtained via any high street estate or letting agent but considerable savings can be made by opting for the services of an online letting agent. The cost of tenant referencing can start from just £90 Inc. Vat per tenant and remember this is a tenant cost unless you’re in Scotland.

How long will Tenant Referencing take?

Once the agent has received all the details for the tenant or tenants requiring referencing you should expect to allow around 5 working days for the tenant reference report to be completed and returned, however, the majority of reports undertaken by lettingaproperty.com are returned to the customer within 2-3 working days, referees permitting.

The drawbacks of self Tenant Referencing

Of course, a landlord is entitled to carry out their own tenant referencing and can follow up the prospective tenant’s allocated referees, contact previous landlords and even carry out a credit check but there is still a strong possibility that some vital piece of information will be missed.

If a landlord is still determined to follow through with the referencing process themselves then it is imperative that they contact all tenant referees directly. A written reference can easily be faked or doctored so a landlord should always obtain all referee contact details from the tenant and carry out all calls in person.

For peace of mind though it really is advised that landlords seek professional agents to carry out the tenant referencing and take the ‘fine tooth comb’ approach when it comes to every aspect of their tenant referencing services and provide an extensive, professional and thorough report every time.

To stay on top of your landlord responsibilities, download a copy of the How to Let guide and our free Landlord Checklist:

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