When a potential tenant contacts a letting agent to discuss the possibility of renting a marketed property, it is common for the letting agent to conduct a number of checks to ensure that person is a suitable tenant. The most common check is a credit check, which provides a letting agent and landlord with information about whether or not a person is financially sound and able to pay their rent – other checks, such as landlord references and employment history may be undertaken depending on the letting agent or landlord.
However, new data has found that some landlords and letting agents are paying for “tenant personality reports”, which explore a potential tenant’s social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to find out more information about them.
Tenant Assured is one such organisation which compiles a “tenant personality report”, with the tenant’s permission, which gathers and collates information about the tenant, including credit-worthiness, employment history, date of birth and even if they own any pets. According to Tenant Assured, the report gives landlords and letting agents an insight into the five main personality traits: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness.
However, what some tenants don’t know is that the personality reports go a lot deeper, and involves searching through a tenant’s accounts for previous updates to check for any buzzwords which might cause concern for the landlord or letting agent. The report also looks for any worrying trends, such as “checking-in” to the local pub or takeaway five nights a week, which may cause the reader to question the tenant’s financial priorities.
According to the director of Tenant Assured, Steve Thornhill, the personality reports generated by his company are not designed to replace traditional credit checks carried out by landlords or letting agents prior to signing a tenancy agreement. Instead, the reports are to be used as a way of gathering and finding out more information about tenants as requested by landlords or renting agents. Mr Thornhill continued to say that many landlords are already searching through their potential tenant’s social media accounts to find out more information, and all that Tenant Assured does is provide this information in a more presentable and digestible way.
Mr Thornhill concluded by saying that Tenant Assured costs £9.99 per report, and that landlords and letting agents with a large number of tenants on their books would be able to apply for discounts. Mr Thornhill stressed that landlords and letting agents never have access to their tenants’ social media accounts and that once a report has been run, landlords and agents would need to pay to run the test again.
The policy director at the Residential Landlords Association, David Smith, added that the new reports are useful for the industry as they will help improve the personal relationship between landlords and their tenants. He added that many employers already check the social media accounts of potential employees and that it was unsurprising that this policy has spread into other industries.
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