View Full Version : Request for a reference - what can I say?
By mutual agreement my non-paying tenant is going to quit the tenancy five months in. This is on the basis that I don't pursue her for the arrears (about £700 worth) which she has built up. It has all been quite amicable save that of course I am fuming as it is not something i can easily afford, just less of a loss than waiting another few months and then starting court action!
I've had a request for a reference from another landlord which sets out a number of questions such as were there arrears etc etc. I can answer those honestly easy enough but the final question is whether I consider her trustworthy and reliable. Are there any potential slander/libel issues that I should take into account before answering this question? Or should i perhaps just leave it blank?
Perhaps I'm worrying over nothing but I would hate for another landlord to go through what I've gone through but at the same time I don't want to scupper her chances of finding something she can actually afford. I don't know what the new rent on her proposed place is.
19-08-2006, 09:41 AM
I think rather than actually answering the question are you not able to say that the tenant owed you £700 rent ? and let the other landlord make up his own mind.
That way you are not lying
19-08-2006, 09:46 AM
Say nothing rather than lie. Repeat after me: "no comment". Let the tenant feel the stress.
19-08-2006, 09:48 AM
In short, I think yes there are potential issues to do with slander/libel laws. However, it is very unlikely, and as long as you are not unfair or lie in the reference, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Why not put a simple "Yes" for that question? In references the important thing is not what is there, but what is not there. If you just put yes without singing her praises etc, then the other landlord should get the general idea, and yet you are not condemning her.
thank you all, i think i will go for 'no comment'!
19-08-2006, 15:13 PM
Noone is obliged to give a reference and if you have had any problems the best thing to do is to decline to provide a reference at all. The new landlord can draw his own conclusions and you stand no chance whatsoever of exposing yourself to legal action. Remember that such tenants are legally aided and if they manage to try on an action it will cost you to defend yourself. Even when you win, your ex-tenant will have no funds to pay your costs or damages awarded. Save yourself the cost of a stamp and apotential load of trouble!
19-08-2006, 15:53 PM
I've had a request for a reference from another landlord which sets out a number of questions such as were there arrears etc etc. I can answer those honestly easy enough but the final question is whether I consider her trustworthy and reliable.
. Why not put a simple "Yes" for that question? In references the important thing is not what is there, but what is not there. If you just put yes without singing her praises etc, then the other landlord should get the general idea, and yet you are not condemning her.
I would think if you put YES , the other landlord would think you meant she was trustworthy and reliable. In this type of situation i would put rather put nothing at all.
Pilcher, that's a really good point - I've now decided not to provide a reference at all. It's too...awkward..
21-08-2006, 14:02 PM
I think the "no comment" route is the best way!
You can get taken to court if you put anything bad down. Noone nowadays can put in a bad reference to people. You either give a good reference or no reference.
21-08-2006, 14:24 PM
Why not put something like " I do not have sufficient knowledge of the person to reply to this question" .. thus covering all eventualities :)
21-08-2006, 14:56 PM
I'm sorry I have to disagree with the poster in allowing the tenant to leave owing £700. I appreciate you're trying to simply remedy a bad situation.
Another point is that under the Data Protection Act you are not allowed to provide any personal information to a third party about somebody without their express authority! (I know about S.35 of the DPA but it doesn't cover this). So, if you approach the tenant and say you have been asked to provide a reference, and you will need their written permission to do so the tenant will know what is to be expected! Either you contravene the DPA at you own risk (inadvisable) or you decline to give a reference.
I would be saying to the tenant that if you sued them for the money as a debt then there will be at least 4 years of financial problems for them which might tip the balance.
The tenant might have pulled this one before as one or two just know how to "milk" the system, and they will get away with it time and again.
Allow the tenant to leave by all means but do not promise to waive the debt.
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