Jump to content

Tenant references, data protection


Recommended Posts

I rented my flat to two tenants who passed the reference checks, both came back with a pass score, and as per the reference form both earned above the requried limit. I have seen the reference form which shows the name of the referee and salary. After 6 months these tenants stopped paying rent and to cut a long story short ended up getting the bailiffs to remove them, but around £4k in unpaid rent and other costs.

I also had a full management contract with the letting agent and till date all the agent has shown me about these tenants is the reference form - I do not have anything about their employment history and they havent helped me at all with rent collection. I have huge issues with the letting agent because i was told they knew them for the past two years and they were good tenants etc so went on that mainly to rent to them. But generally this letting agent was totally unprofessional and would blame them for the situation today as they did nothing to help me with rent collection.

Here are a few questions that i hope the forum can help me with:

- is it possible the reference company would use sources of info e..g payslips supplied by the letting agent but the reference company does not verify these and relies on information supplied by the agent?

- how long does a letting agent need to keep records such as tenant payslips or any other documentation relating to a tenant

- given that i now have a legal case and a court order, can i get all this information released to me e.g. payslips,company references, etc, does the data protection act still prevent me from seeing this information?

Any help from all of you here will be much appreciated.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I use an agent to reference (usually part of a 'tenant find deal') I insist on seeing all the forms and replies and often I will contact the employer myself to be sure. A few years ago I did have the Data Protection Act thrown at me but I said I would not proceed until I had seen the refs and that solved things. My agent usually asks tenant if it is OK to show refs - well if I don't see them I won't be letting to them.

I have never known an agent to keep 'payslips' or even ask for them.

On the other hand I have had reference agents ring me and just ask 'did the tenant pay the rent?' Never mind the fact they left the flat dirty and were very rude upon leaving.

Going back to your problem - I'll take a guess that agent never referenced them and maybe pocketed the fee. You could ask him to show these at court but he will say they are lost or destroyed. There are no regulations governing this sort of thing.

Whom are you taking to court (agent or tenant) and for what? What does it say in your contract with agent about rent collection and non-payment? When most agents say 'rent collection' they mean they will see if it is in their bank account before passing it on to you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, thanks a lot.

My intention is to take the agent to court because i am already chasing the tenants using options like attachment to earnings etc but i think i'm going to reach a dead end there.

We did ask the agent to show us something on the tenants, but he insisted it was all in order and they would be referencing them. As we were keen to rent and had other stuff to manage we agreed, given that for 10 years of renting and managing ourselves we didnt have real problems at all so assumed this too would be ok - big big mistake.

Right through the court process of getting the bailiffs i kept asking the agent where these guys worked, referee details etc and the response was data protected and cant share anything - i reminded the agent he hadnt shared anything and as a landlord i would be entitled to see something.

That is the reason i feel the agent has acted fraudulantly and if i take him to court on grounds of falsifying information around these tenants to get a positive result then would the courts ask for back up or proof because if my efforts result in nothing then I'm happy to leave it and walk away and put it down to bad luck. But what I dont want to do is walk away from something where i smell a rat. You are right on rent collection, it involves a couple of reminder letters and then routing it through their bank account.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So in your case you can argue lack of referencing unless agent produces proof and that one simple flaw caused all your grief. I'd be trying to take agent for all missing rent for starters + your payments of commission to him.

If I was an agent and saw this coming I might try to settle out of court. If agent is a member of ARLA or NAEA contact them and give them the story. Something tells me you are not the 1st customer with this agent who has had this misfortune.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are two ways you can look at this regarding access to the referencing info:

1 The agent legally works for you and any info they collect is the same as if you did it yourself which they should know. But normally any good agent will have on their application form that they reserve the right to provide the landlord with all the info provided related to the tenancy on the understanding it is confidential.

2 The data protection act does apply if the information relates to any court/legal action. Check on the information commissioner office website.

If the agent still won’t release the info the obvious reason is they never did any referencing or they are hiding something.

For you to have a claim the onus in on you to prove the agent didn’t do something they were supposed to do for which you paid for and is stated on their T&C’s.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...