Good tenant referencing should include awareness of would-be renters’ social media history according to RentalStep - but it says more thorough checks are required, too.
The PropTech startup, which specialises in tenant referencing, says a recent study by Foundation Home Loans revealed that an increasing number of landlords use social media to find out more about prospective tenants.
Specifically, some 11 per cent of landlords now check social media accounts to screen tenants, aware that posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles could include lifestyle, career and personal histories - even to the detail of whether they like pets.
The study also found that 29 per cent of landlords interview possible tenants as part of the screening process, in addition to longer-standing screening strategies such as personal references, employer references and previous landlord references.
"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."
He says that the need for landlords to be comfortable with who they’re renting to is more crucial than ever with lettings sector margins under attack from the upcoming fees ban and deposit cap.
Georgeson says that a combination of a landlord’s own research and thorough tenant referencing is required, while meeting tenants in person is always beneficial for both parties.
He says his firm’s TenantPassport - a free digital rental profile - offers a verified account of a tenant’s rental history, references and employment details, as well as contributing towards a tenant’s credit score being improved if they pay their rent on time via a tie-up with credit score service Experian.
"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.