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Government tells agents: Be "considerate" over tenant referencing

The government is urging agents and landlords to be “considerate” when deciding whether to accept tenants on the basis of their references.

The unusual comment came from Housing Minister Chris Pincher in a written Parliamentary answer to Vicky Foxcroft, a Labour MP.

Pincher said “contextual information” from previous landlords and agents, regarding a tenant’s payment holidays, should contribute to the decision.


Foxcroft, who represents the London constituency of Lewisham Deptford, asked what steps were being taken by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to protect the right to a fair reference for tenants in the private rental sector.

Pincher responded: “The reference process is a private matter between the parties involved and not something it would be appropriate for the government to intervene in.

“Landlords and letting agents may wish to obtain references from their prospective tenant’s former landlords or letting agent but cannot charge the tenant a fee for this process.

“As part of the referencing process, landlords may take into account various factors when deciding whether to let to a tenant, including previous or outstanding rent arrears. 

“Where these factors have been adversely affected by circumstances arising from the Coronavirus outbreak, we would encourage landlords and letting agents to be considerate of this when deciding whether to accept or recommend such tenants. 

“When completing the referencing process, both the previous landlord and prospective tenant should therefore provide any necessary contextual information to aid these considerations. For example, this could include details of any voluntary arrangements or payment holidays which were agreed.”

Foxcroft also asked Pincher what steps his department was taking to support shielding private tenants whose landlord may request that a third party access their property at short notice - for example, for maintenance.

Pincher told her: “Tenants have a right to the quiet enjoyment of their property and must be given at least 24 hours’ notice of any visit to the property. If a tenant is self-isolating, no work should be carried out in their home unless it is to remedy a direct risk that affects their safety or the safety of their household.

“Landlords of clinically extremely vulnerable people can carry out routine repairs and inspections, provided the latest guidance on social distancing, working safely in people’s homes and guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals is followed.

“It remains a crime for a landlord to harass a tenant. Tenants who are concerned should contact their local authority or the police.”

Poll: Does the Coronavirus crisis mean a different approach to referencing?


  • icon
    • 12 November 2020 08:06 AM

    I want the best references I can get.
    If I am not satisfied with the credentials that are shown, then no tenancy. Goodnight and goodbye.

    It is my property, and I can do with it what I want to.

    I am appalled that these people want to, and keep, interfering with my business.

    The references are my issue, and mine only. And I will decline and decline until I am satisfied.

    So please Mr. Pincher - PI*S OFF and stay away from my business. You have no rights to interfere.

    Mia M

    But who said the property is actually yours anymore? You are just the mug that bought it, spends money on it and offers a service to society. Like the communist parties in Eastern Europe nationalised any property they felt like, the same concept seems to apply now in this country, just through the back door. The People Republic of Lewisham is one of the worst. We have purchased a house (in the borough) which we were refurbishing to have it rented to students, and it took longer than we thought it would due to a thorough and complete refurbishment, and the council wrote to us to ask why the property had not been rented and that they would intervene and rent the property themselves. We could not believe our eyes. It is dispicable.


    You are evidently very considerate already.

  • icon

    Is Chris Pincher having a laugh? “We will take away your rights of possession” ....but...
    “You should take more risk when accepting a Tenant”...
    Derrrr McFly!!!!!


    Yes, it's an outrageous cheek.

  • Paul Singleton

    The Government can’t even keep their own house in order, advising us how to keep ours is hilarious! 😂🤣

  • icon

    Agents and landlords usually reference tenants on the basis that they will be insurable by rent and legal expenses insurers. They either pass or fail. If an insurer will not take the risk, why the h*ll should I?

    Perhaps Ms Foxcroft would stand as guarantor for those she thinks we should have as tenants?

  • Roger  Mellie

    The government I would have thought are pro-business, so a mild answer to say that we should be more considerate is nothing but a throwaway comment in my opinion. Now, it Labour had anything to do with it, they'd be passing oppressive laws that favour the tenants because landlords are bad people.

  • icon

    Well if you really want to know what your prospective tenant is like, if they have rented before ask for a copy of their inventory check out report (Preferably from an independent Clerk) That will explain in great detail how they have looked after it, I am not aware of any legal bar to requesting it.


    Not always a solution as they probably haven’t been checked out of their current property. However you are on the right track -go pay them a visit and see for yourself. That’s what I do.

  • G romit

    The Government should lead by example and show some consideration and fairness to Landlords


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