I currently have a couple of potential tenants being referenced through Openrents Comprehensive Referencing add on.
I was wondering if there was anything else I could do in addition to this check that maybe Openrent’s referencing doesn’t cover, or that would just be useful as extra information.
Any advice would be great, the potential tenants seem very compliant and open to making the referencing checks as smooth as possible.
You could look at their social media profile
Bank statements and payslips
Ask for an NI number for your records
What would be a suitable amount of bank statements/payslips to ask for? Maybe 3 months?
I ask for six months
It’s a personal choice
Tessa Shepperson has a great list of preliminary checks you can do
I’ll look into this. Thanks!
I use “professional” referencing agencies for the CCJ/bankruptcy check. I only use them for the credit check if the prospective tenant has signed up for open banking. This can work - we had an application recently from someone who seemed well off (and certainly did have a good salary) but the open banking check showed he was taking out payday loans. He said his ex partner had got him into financial difficulties but that’s the standard excuse for financial problems, I have heard it so often it’s boring.
If they don’t use open banking I ask to see bank statements, start with the most recent, and work backwards until I am confident I can see the true picture. Sometimes the only way to do this is to look at their bank statements on their phone.
I never rely on anyone else to do employment, previous landlord, or personal reference checks. I always do these myself and I take great care to make sure I am not being fobbed off with a “planted” referee. For example, for the employment check I never use the phone number given to me by the tenant without checking first that it is truly the number for the firm and not some mate of the tenant who is ready to give a false reference.
Choosing the right tenant is the single most important job a landlord has to do. You can get over almost any other mistake but granting a tenancy to a tenant who doesn’t pay and wrecks the place is always an utter disaster. I select tenants who have a real incentive to be reliable, my favourite is couples who are saving up to buy a home and need to maintain their credit-worthy status so they can get a mortgage. If there is the slightest thing about an applicant that gives me even a twinge of doubt I politely decline their application.
I pretty much do the same as you but what is open banking?
Open banking: https://www.openbanking.org.uk/
In practical terms what happens is that the applicant gives the credit referencing agency permission to use their software to get direct access to the applicant’s bank account and analyse the transactions. What I see as a landlord is a list of relevant credits and debits from the applicant’s bank account. I don’t see irrelevant transactions and I don’t see the account balance (this is from memory because I destroy all such records after completing a letting). It’s not really as good as going carefully through an applicant’s bank statements but I detest having to do that because it’s so intrusive.