Rising social media screening highlights need for good tenant referencing

The rising trend for landlords turning to social media to screen prospective renters shows the importance of good tenant referencing, according to PropTech startup RentalStep.

A recent study 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 nearly a third (29%) of landlords opt to interview possible tenants as part of the screening process, using this as a way of deciding whether they are right for the property in question.

More traditional ways of screening tenants – such as personal references, employer references and previous landlord references – are also still popular among the landlord population.

“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,” says Mike Georgeson, founder and chief executive of RentalStep.

“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.”

With a clear desire from landlords to know more about their tenants before they decide to let to them, tenant referencing is the most efficient and comprehensive way of ensuring rental properties are occupied with good, reliable renters. 

Landlords need to make sure they are comfortable with who they’re renting to – now more than ever, with rising costs and the upcoming fees ban and deposit cap likely to lower the barriers for entry into the private rented sector, which is already expanding at a rapid rate.

To ensure that sense of comfort is there, a combination of a landlord’s own research and thorough tenant referencing is required. What’s more, meeting tenants in person is always beneficial for both parties. 

To this end, RentalStep has designed the TenantPassport to give landlords and letting agents a clear picture of who will be renting from them. The TenantPassport is a free digital rental profile, offering a thorough, verified account of a tenant’s rental history, references and employment details. 

Additionally, it can contribute towards a tenant’s credit score being improved if they pay their rent on time. Thanks to a tie-up with credit score website Experian, each time a tenant pays rent on time the TenantPassport lets the site know and a tenant’s credit score subsequently increases. In turn, a TenantScore makes it easy for landlords to assess a tenant’s suitability for a property.

“We know it can be challenging and costly for landlords to conduct the correct checks on potential tenants, which is why we’ve developed a free and effective alternative,” Georgeson adds.

“Our TenantPassport is a great way of giving landlords a clear indication of how good and reliable a tenant is, and also has the added advantage of improving a tenant’s credit score when they pay their rent on time, which makes it a win-win for both parties.”

RentalStep also provides free and comprehensive tenant referencing to give landlords peace of mind, with an easy to use system providing clear reports that offer all the information needed – including credit checking and landlord and employer references.

“Our tenant pre-qualification and vetting system makes sure that you get the most appropriate tenants without all the time-wasting and hassle,” Georgeson concludes.

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