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Growth in social media screening highlights need for tenant referencing

Tenant referencing has once again been a topic of hot debate over the past few weeks, following a fresh study that found more landlords are turning to social media to garner information about rental applicants.

While the growing trend for landlords turning to social media to screen prospective renters shows the importance of good tenant referencing, it is no substitute for comprehensive checks to help landlords make an educated choice about who will be occupying their rental property, according to Mike Georgeson, founder and chief executive of RentalStep. 

Recent research by Foundation Home Loans revealed that an increasing number of landlords are using social media platforms to find out more about would-be renters, with 11% now checking Facebook and other social media accounts to screen tenants before they let a property to them.

Information available on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles could include everything from lifestyle and career history to relationship status, the company people keep and whether or not they like pets.

The study also found that almost a third - 29% - of landlords choose to interview potential tenants to help decide whether they are right for the property, as part of the screening process.

Georgeson commented: “This study confirms what we already knew: landlords are keen to know more about prospective tenants before they let a property to them and are also understandably concerned about who they are handing over their properties to.”

Tenant referencing offers landlords clarity and essentially confidence that their property will be well looked after. It provides all the background information on prospective tenants, helping landlords and letting agents make an educated choice about who they are letting their properties to, what a tenant does for a living, a previous landlord recommendation, crucially their right to rent in the UK, and importantly - their financial position, including their ability to pay the rent on time each month.

Tenant referencing is essential in order to obtain an accurate picture of the tenant’s financial and employment situation and find out how they conducted themselves during their last tenancy. Using a professional referencing agency to do this is an invaluable safeguard for all landlords, according to Georgeson.

He added: “While social media accounts can offer an insight into someone’s life and allow a landlord to get to know them better, it’s a far less effective way of screening tenants than professionally carried out tenant referencing.”

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    In the 90s i would meet prospective tenants at the property and go by my gut instinct ' generally got it right, today very careful vetting is a must , get the wrong tenant and evicting them is a nightmare , and is going to get worse.

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