Government backed tenant referencing

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CliffJ
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I've been a landlord for 14 years. I've always been very diligent about taking up references but the legal situation does seem stacked in favour of the tenant as far as the supply of genuine references are concerned.

I have no issues with all of the legislation that's comes in over the years about landlord registration, deposit protection etc. It weeds out the bad landlords and promotes good, safe housing conditions.

However, I have had a bad experience with a tenant and without going into too much detail, she simply played the game until I got her evicted, involving me in a lot of time and expense. She then trashed the house before she left. The legal advice given to me was that it wasn't worth paying to pursue her and so I cut my losses and didn't.

But when I got the house back, she left me with a completely trashed interior. It took months of work to refurbish, needing a new kitchen and bathroom. There was human and dog excrement everywhere (pets weren't allowed of course), as well as drugs residue. The drains and plumbing were blocked, electrics wrecked - it all needed replacing.
God knows what she'd been doing. It actually beggars belief that people choose to live in such a way!

Thankfully I now have a good tenant who pays on time and keeps the house well, but I've just been lucky this time. I do use reference agencies but their hands are tied too as there's no central register to search. All they can do is take up the same references that I can (supposed previous addresses, credit references, CCJs etc).

I can't help thinking that such problems could be avoided if landlords had a way to get a definitive report on a tenant whose identity could be confirmed centrally. I do ask for national insurance numbers, birth certificates etc but in my case the birth certificate turned out not to have been hers and the national insurance number someone else's too.

The Government expects us to confirm the tenant's right to rent, but there's no way to even confirm the tenant's identity formally. I now don't take tenants without a passport or driving licence, but many don't have those and they are often the poorest and most vulnerable who need decent rental accommodation.

Also for the good tenants, it would allows them to build up a good track record.

Is this something worth the RLA picking up as a campaign to put to the Government? I can't believe it would cost much to implement. It could be free for the tenant and certainly I as a landlord would be happy to pay a search fee and a fee when adding information about a tenant, so it would probably fund itself.

Tenants who damage property and disappear could then have that information registered against them so that the next landlord doesn't get caught out.

Sure I have insurances to cover such rogue tenants but it's a regular additional expense and a central register could eliminate the problem (or am I being na´ve!).

I'd really appreciate comments and suggestions and your own experiences of course.

08/06/2018 15:39

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