I’m new on OpenRent and have been getting a lot of tenant messages. Does anyone who has used OpenRent for a while have information on what I’m allowed to ask in screening other than the basic smoker, student, and pets that have already been activated? It’s hard to know what’s breaking GDPR and what is fair to ask.
Also if any experienced landlords have any advice on red flags I should be looking out for when screening tenants that I might be missing? I’ve had some say there self-employed so I’m assuming they won’t pass referencing. It’s hard to know who’s going to pass referencing and not waste my money!
self employed need to provide 3 years accounts for you verified by tax man or accountant Same as required by a bank as if they were giving a mortgage. Being a happy landlord is good for you as I well know.I rent out places to S/e people and talking to them gives you a good idea if they are pie in the sky or not
:::: Please note that we cannot proceed with a viewing until the following information is supplied. 1) how many adults/children will move into the property and how are you related to each other 2) when are you looking to move 3) how much notice do you have to give at current address 4) Please be aware that affordability checks will be made and your combined annual gross income must be in excess of £28,000 5) can you supply a guarantor 6) can you provide references from previous landlords 7) can you provide references from employers 8) do you have any pets 9) are any of you smokers 10) do you have any adverse credit such as ccj’s, pursued for rent arrears, bankruptcy proceedings or previous evictions 11) what attracts you to this property 12) is anyone in full time work 13) do you have uk citizenship/right to rent *Please do not place a holding deposit/ press the Rent Now button until all parties are in agreement::::
I would add to my list “if you press the rent now button or place a holding deposit without my say so then I will not rent to you”. I have not had to rent out for a few years to new tenants as mine stay so long and i am well known in the area for reasonable prices and a good nature that i usually have a waiting list for SHELTER in a warm property with good insulation
I have had an odd question from a tenant proposal.
Claiming that a family member will be paying the rent. What steps would you follow? Referance the tenant and the rent payer? The rent payer and tenant on the tenanct agreement?
This is what I post back to each enquiry, it’s a bit excessive, but weeds out quite a lot of people who aren’t serious or do not meet affordability or other criteria. I’d say at least half don’t even respond after the message…
"Due to the extent of initial interest in the property, it would be helpful if you could take the time to answer a few questions below prior to arranging viewing, for each adult that will be living at the property.
Full name and contact details.
Do you currently rent, and if so where and for how much?
How long have you lived in your current home?
What date would you want to move in?
What is your employment?
How long have you been in your current employment?
What’s your current income?
How many people will be living in the property?
Do you think your current landlord would give you a favourable reference?
Have you ever had an eviction?
Do you have a guarantor?
Have you got any previous convictions, or anything that would show up on the background checks?
Have you filed for bankruptcy?
Do you have any pets?
Do you smoke?
Does any person that will be living at the property claim housing benefits?
How long will you be looking to live at the property?
Thank you for your time. All interested parties will be contacted back upon response of the above information.
Use Openrent’s Rent Now option which does individual tenant referencing varied or by Equifax. All your questions are checked in this process and you get their 4/5 page report plus other Openrent services included in the price.
I used most of the questions listed in Karl11’s reply but also added in some extra information stating that their income must be in excess of 3 times the rent and stating that I may require a guarantor and if they were a first time renter I would require a guarantor.
I also made it clear I would be getting references and that the full deposit MUST be paid in advance.
If anyone didnt give a full reply I rejected them and sent a message stating why.
This meant that I only needed viewings with a few potential tenants who on the face of it met all the criteria.
I used openrents referencing but also carried out some of my own checks as I found their investigations barely skimmed the surface and there were too many unanswered questions. So be careful.
Everyone develops their own list of questions to ask based on their own experience. My advice is never take anything on trust. Don’t believe a word that any applicant says until you have verified it as being true. I have been told lies by people who you would think are fine upstanding members of the community. Every statement made by an applicant can be checked. I’m absolutely meticulous about this. I ask lots of questions and make a short list of suitable applicants, preferably just a couple of them, and then I check every single thing they have told me. I don’t rely on others. In particular I speak direct to their referees. I demand evidence, preferably documentary, of everything they say. The only thing I delegate to a third party is the basic credit check but I also ask to see their most recent 3 months bank statements. I don’t keep any of the documents except the Right to Rent evidence so GDPR doesn’t come into it. In my personal experience, in today’s world, many people will say anything, absolutely anything, to get what they want. You only have to look at the politicians to see the truth of that. The good news is that some people are honest and reliable and you find out who they are by asking lots of questions and checking the answers are true.
Thats mostly true, but not 100%. Medical information for example is a special category of data that an ordinary GDPR policy wont cover. Most business, including landlords would not be authorised to store such information. This would include, for example asking the tenant if theyre covid vaccinated or making a note when the tell you theyre on anti-depressants.
Yes, but there are exceptions to the exceptions. In our business our regulator required us to employ a doctor to carry out medical examinations for safety critical roles and we were required to keep the records ourselves. And there are questions which would contravene the rules about discrimination - although here there are more exceptions to exceptions. It is unlawful to discriminate on the ground of race but government departments (NHS, voting register, etc.) often ask what race I identify with. As I understand it you can ask almost any question but must be careful which ones you use to make choices of tenants. I can’t remember whether age discrimination is unlawful when selecting tenants and I don’t have time to look it up, but I always ask about age even though I don’t discriminate and anyway it’s on the Right to Rent documentation (passports, birth certificates, etc.). For myself I feel free to ask almost any question but I shred all my notes for unsuccessful applicants and most of them for the ones who become tenants because I don’t have to prove to anyone else that I’ve chosen tenants carefully and if I get it wrong there’s only me to blame.