20 Divulging Confidential Information
I am concerned that my tenant or guarantors will not want to divulge salary, bank account and other quite personal details. Will this be a problem?
This is a question we are occasionally asked and landlords or agents quite naturally feel they are being intrusive. However, look at it this way: you are handing over an asset and giving a legal interest in a property which is worth perhaps £100,000 or much more. If you go to your bank or building society for a loan you will be asked just as many personal questions, if not more.
You really do need to make sure that your tenants can afford the rental or that your guarantor can afford to pay the rent if your tenant defaults.
Unfortunately, we cannot give you a recommendation without this information. We find that in practice, as this process is so common and generally accepted nowadays, and as this process is approved as a necessary requirement by the Information Commissioner's Office under the Data Protection Act, very few people object.
Of course, the onus in on landlords and letting agents to convince tenants and guarantors that the information is kept totally secure and confidential and in accordance with the Data Protection Act principles. If tenants refuse you can understand their reluctance, with identity theft in mind, but also you have got to ask yourself: have they got something to hide?
21 Why do the printed forms ask for more information that the on-line forms?
Our printed forms are often more comprehensive and request more details that our on-line forms. We can complete all the necessary checks with the information requested on the on-line forms. The reason the printed forms sometimes ask for more information is purely for the benefit of the landlord / agent in case they have problems with the tenancy in the future - rent arrears, abandonment, disputes etc. This is when the additional information is very useful.
Of course you are using our system to try to eliminate these problems, but there are no absolute guarantees - tenancies can and do go wrong whatever checks you do, though our checks cut down these risks considerably. Completed forms should be signed by
the tenant, giving you legal permission to do the checks, and the hard copy should be kept securely for future reference, for as long as the information is relevant. Afterwards the information should be securely destroyed - in-line with Data Protection Act principles.
22 Why do you ask for Bank details on the forms?
We request prospective tenants' bank details because most landlords / agents will be arranging standing order payments and therefore these details will be needed. Also, should there be subsequent problems with payments it is very useful information for the landlord / agent. Providing these details to us on the on-line application form is optional but when you do provide them we can verify that the bank account in that name actually exists.
23 Is there a way I can get my tenants to complete the application form on-line to save me the task?
At this time, no, but we are working on a system which will allow this very soon.
24 My Rent Guarantee policy requires me to do checks with an agency using Experian or Equifax. Can you confirm you use either of these companies to carry out your checks?
We use all the major credit reference agencies including Call Credit, Experian and Equifax and sometimes more than one when a verification is needed.
25 My report has come back with a caution saying my tenant cannot be located at the address/s provided - what should I do?
When a tenant cannot be located at the address/s provided additional information should be sought. Proof of residence and further identity checks should be carried out and additional checks made to ensure that there are no County Court Judgments (CCJs) regsitered for the tenant at any previous addresses up to 6 years.
26 What is a FICO Score?
FICO is the acronym for Fair Isaac Corporation, a publicly-traded corporation in the U.S which developed a method of credit scoring now widely used and recognised among the main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian etc) as a FICO score. They calculate a borrower's credit score based on information held on the individual's credit file using their own different computational formulas and statistical methods to determine a credit-worthiness score .