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sukesu
25-07-2005, 14:41 PM
Hi

I have been led to believe I am entitled to see the references the agent recieved on our tenants? Is that correct?

I have asked the agent for them and they say I am not allowed to see the details of the references under the data protection act?

Have I misunderstood something here....thanks.

MrShed
25-07-2005, 15:06 PM
I am unsure, but if the agent is able to gain access to them, then surely so can you? The agent is not in some "hallowed ground" of being exempt from Data Protection, so it doesnt sound right that they can view them but you cant.

sukesu
25-07-2005, 15:14 PM
Thanks - kind of what I figured - I think the agent doesn't want me to see them because they were't as good as they should have been hence why they are quoting data protection.

One reason I want to see them is once I get rid of this tenant I want to decide whether the agent was a miss and if so I would be unlikely to use them to manage my property next time.

MrShed
25-07-2005, 15:25 PM
The only reason I could possibly think of is that the agent may have had an agreement with the tenant to do a reference check, but not an agreement between you and the tenant. However, even this is tenuous as the agent is acting on your behalf.

MrWoof
25-07-2005, 16:13 PM
Whatever the agent does is on behalf of the LL so if the agent sees references there is absolutely no reason why the LL should not. The last time I used an agent, she sent references to me to approve before putting the tenant in.

Ericthelobster
25-07-2005, 17:31 PM
I think the agent doesn't want me to see them because they were't as good as they should have been hence why they are quoting data protection.Or more likely, the references don't actually exist at all!

Helen
25-07-2005, 19:28 PM
You also need to bear in mind that it is your responsibility to approve the tenants. This is what happened to me - read the Terms and conditions that you signed up with your agent closely as your agent is likely to discharge all responsibility as to the suitability of the tenant after this.
I believe that the tenant is in a position to allow you as potential landlord to have access to their data.

MrWoof
25-07-2005, 19:32 PM
If there aren't any references, go to the agent with a big grin on your face and let them know that they are responsible for any problems and that you WILL be seeing them in court if necessary. It is indeed your responsibility to approve the tenants but you delegated this to your agent.

sukesu
25-07-2005, 20:11 PM
Thanks - I am pretty sure there are references I just wanted to be sure I am entitled to see them before I go back to the agent telling them so.

One of the things I want to do next time round is check the references and not leave it solely to the agent. (even though that's what we pay them to do)! There is sooooo much stuff on the internet I could probably find out more about the tenants than the references show. I have an email address for our tenant and searched the internet for his email address and found numerous forums he is posting on. Nothing interesting but it is amazing what you can find. Also searched the property address in google and that's how I found out he was using our address as his company headquarters.

I am going to go back to the agent and insist I get them.

Paul_f
25-07-2005, 22:21 PM
There's no need for all the waffle.

The landlord, and only the landlord can ask and should be granted the request to see any tenant references. Why? The agent is agent for the landlord and not a superior being.

Under the Data Protection Act the landlord has every right to see the full references and in fact should be offered them by the agent before approving the tenant's application with them. The tenant however, must NEVER be allowed to access them in any form as the agent would be committing an offence under the DPA were he to do so.

If the references don't exist or are poor the agent is acting unprofessionally by allowing the person(s) a tenancy and should be brought to book! Plenty more of this in other posts by using the search facility and putting in "Data Protection Act" funnily enough! I'm beginning to think I must get out more!

paul_c
26-07-2005, 10:16 AM
The tenant however, must NEVER be allowed to access them in any form as the agent would be committing an offence under the DPA were he to do so.


Is this correct Paul? It's been our understanding as employers and landlords that you have to provide copies of information you hold on staff, tenants etc (e.g. references etc) if requested to by the person(s) involved. You can charge a nominal fee, say £5, for the admin expense of copying letters etc. This is why these days you have to be so careful when writing references - because the person can see what you've written as a reference and possibly take legal action if what's written is untrue.

You can't provide the information to all and sundry but only to the named individual and only information relating directly to them.

Paul

mjpl
26-07-2005, 13:22 PM
Us Agents may not be superior beings or gods but we do now have to apply to be included on the DP register. This allows the agent to hold personal information. Only a recent change. Refer to Paul F's post as he is correct about the requirement to supply. We always send references to a Landlord with a reference approval letter which we ask them to sign to confirm they are happy with the information that has been gathered.

If a tenant wants to know or see their references, refer them to the referencing agents who made the decision.

sukesu
26-07-2005, 14:00 PM
Thanks for all the info - I have gone back to my agent advising them that I insist on seeing the references. I'll let you know how I get on.

Whether they are good or bad is imaterial to a certain extent now but going forward I want to make sure I get them to review before we accept the next tenant.

P.Pilcher
26-07-2005, 15:02 PM
Giving references is a voluntary action - you don't have to do it. Thus if you are asked for a reference and are happy to be complimentary then by all means do so. If however you cannot be complimentary for any reason then do not open yourself to legal action and being (expensively) obliged to prove what you said it true in a court of law. Just refuse to provide the requested reference then no action can be taken.

P.P.

Paul_f
26-07-2005, 16:33 PM
You are interpreting it wrongly!


Is this correct Paul? It's been our understanding as employers and landlords that you have to provide copies of information you hold on staff, tenants etc (e.g. references etc) if requested to by the person(s) involved. You can charge a nominal fee, say £5, for the admin expense of copying letters etc. This is why these days you have to be so careful when writing references - because the person can see what you've written as a reference and possibly take legal action if what's written is untrue. The applicant can request a copy of the reference from the provider - you as agent are the recipient so be warned about releasing this information! Bear in mind too that if you were to give the applicant copies, what is to stop them altering the wording to satisfy another prospective landlord they are bona-fide when they clearly might not be. Forgery of such pieces of paper is extremely easy! Remember when somebody is turned down for a loan, the company will not tell you why, but instead refer you to a credit reference agency (CRA) who provided the lender with the information; the applicant is then at liberty to ask what information is held on them by that CRA.

You can't provide the information to all and sundry but only to the named individual and only information relating directly to them.

Paul

Paul_f
26-07-2005, 16:48 PM
These are but two examples recently to show how parlous the state of letting finds itself in; the general standard is I'm afraid very poor.


An advert in the local paper by a private landlord asks for "tenant to provide references with application and bond".
I was telephoned by an ARLA/NAEA agent who was anxious to get one of my (outgoing) tenants into one of their properties, and just asked over the 'phone whether he had paid the rent on time (affirmative) and if their had been any problems (Neighbours would periodically be upset by raucous behaviour and complain bitterly, and report it to the LA's EHO). I told the agent that he had replaced a 100 years old cottage style door that had been damaged during a fracas, with a B & Q bog standard box-panelled door. The architrave was damaged and the door won't shut! Result - tenant moved out of my managed property last week and moves into the new one today (minus his 6 weeks deposit) - a recipe for disaster for the new landlord I warrant! What will the agent have on file concerning previous agents reference? B*gg*r All!

sukesu
27-07-2005, 13:49 PM
Thanks one and all.

Email from agent today

"The references are in the post"

On another note to do with references. Can you offer any recommendations on what we should be looking for in terms of good references. One of my worries is if the tenant currently in my house had not paid rent on his last rental and say has a court judgement against him. That is unlikely to have shown up at the time he was credit checked for our house. (Unless he had done it previously) Don't court judgements go against your name and address so if they move you can't track that....if you see what I mean.

If my agent went to the previous agent for a reference which I believe they did and asked questions like did he pay rent on time ? Which maybe he didn't if I can prove he did that can I hold the previous agent responsible for lying on the reference.

Paul_f
27-07-2005, 15:54 PM
Thanks one and all.

Email from agent today

"The references are in the post"

On another note to do with references. Can you offer any recommendations on what we should be looking for in terms of good references. One of my worries is if the tenant currently in my house had not paid rent on his last rental and say has a court judgement against him. That is unlikely to have shown up at the time he was credit checked for our house. (Unless he had done it previously) Don't court judgements go against your name and address so if they move you can't track that....if you see what I mean.Look on the "zone" from the home page regarding references and there is an application form you can download asking all the necessary questions. You can also use the "zone's" referencing service; I understand it's very good!


If my agent went to the previous agent for a reference which I believe they did and asked questions like did he pay rent on time ? Which maybe he didn't if I can prove he did that can I hold the previous agent responsible for lying on the reference. The agent needs to have obtained all references in writing from everybody so he won't be able to prove anything if all he has is an oral "okay", so the agent would not be undertaking his duty of care by not obtaining a written follow-up too to retain on his file! - Go for it!