An interesting article in London’s Evening Standard free-newspaper reveals that an increasing number of letting agents appear to be using social media to help vet the prospective tenants.
In the piece, journalist Ruth Bloomfield cites a number of agencies that check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites to get an idea of what their potential tenants are like - and to gain an insight into how they may treat a property once they start renting.
For example, the in-house referencing team working at Greater London Properties routinely check applicants’ social media acounts.
“If a flat costs, say, £500 a week, they could make another £500 a week on top of that using Airbnb. That is our main concern, but we are also looking out for people advertising for flatmates because we want everyone who lives in a property to have a contract” GLP director Rob Hill tells Bloomfield.
“If you see lots of house party pictures where things are smashed and ruined it is something you might want to show to the landlord” he adds, suggesting that social media also allows indications of “inappropriate behaviour” to be spotted - including excessive swearing and images of gratuitous nudity.
The piece also quotes Tracey Cumming, head of lettings for Jackson-Stops & Staff, who says social media is now “another layer of referencing” to add to more formal checks on employment, education and qualifications.
Photos and descriptions of drunkenness - which feature often on some social media accounts - are clearly a red flag.
“It would raise a question about their abilities to look after a property ... We would wonder if they were going to have lots of parties and cause damage to the property. People are obviously social, so it would depend on what they had up there of course.”