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Do ‘Tenant References’ Provided By Letting Agents Actually Mean Anything?
Over the years I’ve received several letting agents contact me to get references for either current or previous tenants of mine. You know, just so they can make sure their not creating tenancies for lowlife parasites. It’s a pretty normal process, and I’m sure many landlords have been contacted by agents for the same reason.
I’ve noticed a lot of diverse methods of referencing, scaling from average to excellent, but none of which have been as lousy as what I witnessed yesterday.
I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from a Letting agent that wanted references for a supposed tenant of mine.
The phonecall had woken me up from my afternoon nap; like a deer caught in the headlights, I was dazed, confused and cranky. It didn’t help that the guy on the other end had a thick Scottish bellow. Deciphering heavy Scottish accents is tricky at the best of times.
Hello Sir, am I speaking to [insert my name]?
I’m calling from [insert letting agent], to get a reference check for your tenant Richard Michaels
Errr err oh ok..cool.
Has he been a good tenant?
Would you rent to him again?
Ahh good. That’s the main question we base our reference on. Has he always paid rent on time? Any problems?
Always on time, no problem at all.
Thank you very much for your help, sir. Goodbye.
Firstly, I didn’t have a bloody clue who Richard Michaels was, and I still don’t, and probably never will. At the time I was pretty sure he wasn’t a tenant of mine, but since I was half asleep, I didn’t want to dispute it because I may have been wrong.
Secondly, I could have literally been anyone. The agent didn’t ask for any credentials. He didn’t even ask for the address of the property. All he did was ask if I was the person he was looking for. It was pretty obvious by our conversation that I was confused by the tenant’s name, yet he chose to neglect all signs of hesitation I so-boldly flared. I couldn’t have behaved anymore suspect if I had tried. Fool.
Thirdly, Richard Michaels could be the slimiest snake-oil tenant in the world, yet I gave him a positive reference. Now, due to my negligence, some poor sucker (landlord) may end up with a tenant that was given birth by slipping out of Satan’s anal-passage.
Perhaps a shower will wipe away my guilt.
This is why ALL LL should register their tenants good and bad with LRS.
Then LL can actually communicate with the LL whose tenants they were.
Network referencing is the best referencing where LL can actually tell eachother the truth about tenants.
So true!! I agree with you Paul. That is more authentic as well. Well just by chance this tenant may be a good person but he could also be the worst tenant ever!!! The LRS is much more reliable.
A previous LL reference is only reliable if a Land Registry search has been carried out on the tenant's current/previous address. Then when I phone I explain why I'm calling and explain that I need to verify I am actually talking to the LL and not the tenant's best friend or mate (happens a lot) I explain that as a LL I'm sure he'd want his referencing done properly and most are happy to answer a couple of question based on the info I got from the Land Registry search - information anyone pretending to be the LL is unlikely to know. When, and only when, I'm happy I'm talking to the genuine owner do I email a reference request. I use email as I like to have a full audit trail.