Lifetime renting: do long-term tenants still need to be referenced?

A PropTech startup is questioning whether long-term lifestyle tenants should have to go through the traditional referencing process when moving between rental properties.

According to RentalStep, a shift towards long-term and lifestyle renting means that the lettings industry needs to provide a more streamlined and suitable process for renters and landlords.

The most recent English Housing Survey calculates that the private rented sector now accounts for a fifth of all households, growing to become the largest tenure in London.

Meanwhile, research by Your Move indicates that around a third of current tenants have already rented for six years or more.

This comes as the new Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, recently announced that the government will soon be consulting on options to support landlords who want to offer longer tenancies.

“With many tenants now renting privately for 10 years or longer, they have the opportunity to build up a comprehensive rental history,” says Mike Georgeson, founder and chief executive of RentalStep.

“It therefore seems logical that all this information is stored in one central place and that tenants and landlords don’t have to undertake a lengthy, admin-heavy and sometimes expensive traditional referencing process every time someone wants to move home.”

“If tenants are renting for the long-term but moving around frequently to experience different locations, there shouldn’t be a need for them to constantly resubmit the same information,” Georgeson explains.


RentalStep, a recent winner of HM Treasury’s Rent Recognition Challenge, has created TenantPassport, a free digital rental history profile including property, employment and reference information, which can be shared with landlords and letting agents.

The platform also provides tenants with the opportunity to have their rental payment history contribute towards their all-important credit score.

Landlords can use RentalStep to find the best tenants who are fully referenced and credit checked by Experian. They can also use the platform to list available properties on Rightmove, Zoopla and PrimeLocation and receive free access to an online booking system and comprehensive referencing services.

“The cost of referencing prospective tenants is something all landlords need to consider,” says Georgeson.

“From next year, it will no longer be possible to charge tenants upfront fees and it’s widely expected that the cost of the traditional referencing process will fall to landlords.”

“As the market changes to provide a fairer deal for tenants, landlords must adapt and think about their own costs and whether it makes sense to pay a fee each time a tenant needs referencing,” he says.

“We all need to embrace the shift towards lifestyle renting and provide an easier way for tenants to move between properties, while allowing landlords to find fully referenced tenants in one place with less administration and at a fraction of the cost,” Georgeson concludes.

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