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dazalock
10-08-2005, 15:59 PM
I was thinking :confused:, why has no one ever produced a online database of bad/good tenants? I guess the case for liable is one reason, but I saw this for bad companies http://www.blagger.com and wondered what would be the implications of something similar for the rental market?

MrWoof
10-08-2005, 16:07 PM
I think you would be in danger of being sued for libel. Every word written could be subject to legal analysis. It would have to be anonymous posting and then, who would believe it. Lovely idea though.:D

dazalock
10-08-2005, 16:22 PM
They seem to have got round it in the terms and conditions of use, also, I suppose where the server is hosted?

MrShed
10-08-2005, 22:39 PM
Hmmm. If you basically stated fact and not "OMFGWTF what a MORON this guy was, he really is thick, and robbed me blind, bloody criminal", then you would be ok....very very interesting idea! Not entirely sure if it would take off though....would require an awfully high percentage of landlords to participate for it to be worthwhile really.

justaboutsane
11-08-2005, 10:10 AM
This would be an excellent idea...... but what about Data Protection Act? I know Lets direct had some sort of database going but it seems to have vanished from their site. I think my comments on another thread are applicable here too, if Landlords applied CCJs to bad tenants this would also help future Landlords... CCJs do follow you, they appear on experian etc... Credit I had at a previous address was logged on my credit file when I applied for my file a few years ago, I even picked up a few of the previous tenants credit history too.. all it took was a short letter to Experian and they cleared his rubbish off my file!

I say YES to a database but we must take into consideration the laws regarding Data Protection and libel/slander etc!

MrShed
11-08-2005, 11:31 AM
Data protection would not be an issue here i do not believe. HAving thought more about it, I think an ideal way of doing it would be to submit:

Name of tenant
Area of rental(NOT address)
Landlords name and address(if wanted to leave address)

Then, a rating system. such as how many out of ten for payment of rent, for noise, for any problems etc(obviously these areas would need refining :P). This prevents the possibility of any libelous comments, as "ratings" are quite obviously based upon opinion.

I am in the process of building up a small portfolio of websites and I would be interested in developing this idea further for my next site. That is, if dazalock would have no objections...I do not want to steal other people's ideas!

Patois
11-08-2005, 12:10 PM
Data protection would not be an issue here i do not believe.


This has been brought up before and of course Data Protection applies!!!
You are talking about personal information!

Look at the link below:

Data Commissioner (http://www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk/cms/DocumentUploads/Data%20Protection%20Act%20Fact%20V2.pdf)

MrShed
11-08-2005, 12:12 PM
In what way are you talking about personal information? You are not giving addresses, credit details or the like. You would be giving an opinion of how easily various areas of a tenancy ran.

MrShed
11-08-2005, 12:20 PM
Actually having read your link, the DPA is more wide ranging than I anticipated.

- What difference is there between what is proposed here, and a journo stating an opinion on a celebrity or similar in a paper? Or on an online site?

- Could you not merely state that the ratings are opinions of how the TENANCY went?

MrShed
11-08-2005, 12:43 PM
Having read the FAQ about websites and the DPA, it is stated that if the risk if negligable, so that the data is not sensitive and the information would not result in the person being contactable, it would most likely not breach the DPA. I think this would be the case with this site.

paul_c
11-08-2005, 12:45 PM
FCC Paragon - a referencing agency for Agents and Landlords - have done this. To quote from their web site........ 'Our Tenants’ Database contains hundreds of thousands of Tenant records, collated from details provided by Letting Agent's, Landlords and our own claims records. Each new application is automatically searched against our database.Should we record a defaulting Tenant we will update our database accordingly.'

This isn't a plug for the company as we haven't used them ourselves.

dazalock
11-08-2005, 13:24 PM
I think that database is more for the agent then the private LL.

I was thinking more along the lines of a free open source database for everyone, where LL can post problems and there is opportunity for tenants to respond.

Mr Shed, yes a rating system would work I guess, provided there was a contact to the poster to get either further information or for the site admin to verify details is a complaint is recieved, and no, I have no problem if you want to move with this as a project, I think it would be good for the community.

PM me and maybe we can start to work on something?

MrShed
11-08-2005, 13:49 PM
Yes well I am definitely interested in working on this. Will need a week or two to clear what ive got on at the minute, but expect a PM from me!

Think ill email the data protection ppl and see what they say. My only concern would be that the limitations of what we can make available publicly may make the idea untenable, as if you cannot identify a prospective tenant due to lack of things to compare, it might cause difficulties.

MrWoof
12-08-2005, 10:29 AM
I've been thinking on these lines for a while but I see another problem. Why restrict it to bad tenants, from reading this forum, there are bad landlords and bad agents so why not include them? Here's the problem though, I've just had to evict a tenant for the first time, I could give chapter and verse why but when I last spoke to her, she gave me a list of reasons for her actions which, although I could demonstrate they were false, she believed them. Likewise, I used to use a particular agent who was so bad, I took the business off her - and was thanked by my tenants for doing so - but my brother in law has had nothing but good service from her.
There are always two sides to an argument and a database such as this would need to allow right of reply.

MrShed
12-08-2005, 10:52 AM
I had thought about the issue of a "bad landlord/agent" 1 as well. I do not see a problem with the right of reply, except that presumably a landlord isnt going to advertise to a previous tenant that they have rated them as tenants online! But obviously if a tenant came across it they should have right of reply. In fact I think if a tenant asked, they should probably have the right to ask to have it removed also.

dazalock
12-08-2005, 11:14 AM
I e-mailed the people at Blagger and they have replied:

"Thank you for you interest in Blagger.com. The site already caters for
leaving comments on landlords, we have no plans at present to extend this to
tenants.

We remove any comments that cannot be backed up after further investigation.
As you may imagine we receive quite a few solicitors letters, but to date no
legal preoceedings have been instigated."

I think it would be best to concetrate on the private LL and Tenant sector. I say this becasue, a. blagger and similar sites cater for the Agent. b. An agent is more likely to goto legal resorts to remove comments wether true or not.

MrWoof
12-08-2005, 11:18 AM
I would have no problem in rating a previous tenant, in fact, if the database is not fully open it will be worthless and will descend into abuse. Names, addresses and a landline phone number should be supplied to the webmaster for verification and the name and address must be published as well.

MrShed
12-08-2005, 11:32 AM
I would have no problem in rating a previous tenant, in fact, if the database is not fully open it will be worthless and will descend into abuse. Names, addresses and a landline phone number should be supplied to the webmaster for verification and the name and address must be published as well.


Yes, but in trying to stay within the boundaries of the DPA, I believe publishing a persons previous address(ie the tenants) may contravene this. If it doesnt, then yes i absolutely agree.

justaboutsane
12-08-2005, 12:11 PM
Can we include good tenants too? We have a lady who is looking to move due to work commitments, she has been a star one of our best tenants ever. We have offered to buy a house in her chosen area as we know its a good growth area and she is such a good tenant it is worth the investment. Unfortunatly her health is suffering and so she needs to move sooner but has only signed a 6 month AST as she wants to come back to us if we find a house closer to her place of work.

If I could put her name on a database with marks out of ten I would do it now! We are just sorry to lose her.

We need to think about the good ones too! It can't be to negative.

MrShed
12-08-2005, 12:13 PM
Oh yes absolutely. I think the idea would be that all tenants would be put on. The problem is that people want to complain more than praise in their nature, so I guessmore bad tenants will end up on than good.

dazalock
12-08-2005, 12:33 PM
Definately, if such a database was available and you put in a name and it comes up trumps, nice one!. Have to be carefull that bad tenants dont put themselves down as good tenants though!

Tootsie Roll
12-08-2005, 13:42 PM
Interesting post and I am not a legal expert in this field at all but I can think of a couple of problems.
Firstly, to use the credit reference agencies as an example (which on a smaller scale you appear to want to copy) they can only provide factual information i.e . Cust A
No of 1 & 2 in last 24 months = 4 (meaning the number of times Cust A has been either 1 or 2 payments in arrears over the last 24 months. Factual information that can both be disputed by the borrower and if necessary backed up by the lender - you seem to be proposing something far more subjective.

Secondly, to use previous employers as an example when providing a reference. Again, they can not use any subjective information i.e. 'This Guy was always late, pissed about using the internet all day and was generally piss poor'. If they can't say anything nice, all they can do is provide factual information again like: He worked for us between x & y and had z number of days off sick.

MrWoof
12-08-2005, 16:14 PM
There seems to be a lot of support for this idea, also, a number of problems. Perhaps there is a way to do this and raise standards at the same time, if some form of professional association on the lines of ARLA can be started. It would have to be headed up by a competent professional and could encompass much more than simply a tenant database. Landlords could show membership and this could have the same effect as membership of ARLA has for agents.

Editor
12-08-2005, 18:34 PM
This sounds a great idea in theory and with all the technology we now have with computers, databases and the Internet one would assume it would be a winner. However, for many of the reasons already outlined above, it never seems to have fully taken off.
In fact this is far from a new idea and several organisations have tried it, including some in the UK. One in particular is TICA an Australian / New Zealand firm which claims great success over there - see: http://www.tica.com.au/iabout.htm
The main problems would appear to me to be:
1 Data Protection rules as previously mentioned.
2 Other legal issues such as libel - there's always two sides to every dispute and who is to say which side is in the wrong - often it's not black and white.
3 To be factual, and therefore fully legal, only those tenants who have been convicted of a crime, anti-social behaviour or have CCJs against them could be recorded. Unfortunately, these people are in the minority - by far the greatest number of bad tenants (and landlord or agents) never get convicted of anything. Due to the costs and time involved in evicting a bad tenant (£1,000 plus would not be unusual) there is and argument for landlords to use the softly, softly approach and avoid the legal system at all costs. Even a bribe to leave can be cost effective, and what about those landlords who give good references to be rid of tenants?
4 The sheer complexity and work involved in building and maintaining such a database.
5 How long should an individual remain on the database?
6 What about stolen identities and name changes?

The list is endless!

In my opionion, a good tenant screening system is still the best safeguard for landlords and agents when letting: see - http://www.tenantverify.co.uk/tenant_screening.htm

See also the articles on Credit Scoring and Identity Theft at: www.LandlordLOG.com

But I remain to be convinced otherwise. If you offer such a services, lets hear your views.

Editor.

MrShed
06-10-2005, 23:02 PM
Sorry to dredge up an old thread....but I have discovered today that you are not breaking the data protection act if names are not mentioned. I mean it isnt as good as the original idea, but you could have a system where you ask the tenant for his previous rental addresses and times, and you could list a rental period at a specific property on a database, as long as you dont use the tenants name...I still think this would be quite useful!

Jennifer_M
07-10-2005, 12:10 PM
A bad tenant isn't likely to give you his real old address and landlord contact details if he didn't pay rent/trashed the place.

He'll probably pretend to have lived with parents/friends/family/abroad etc.

MrShed
07-10-2005, 22:01 PM
Agreed jennifer, hence it wont be as useful as it could have been. However, there will still be some who give the correct names....it wont be quite as useful for finding out bad tenants, but it would really help with spotting the good ones!

ukrv
08-10-2005, 10:10 AM
Just a few thoughts on the database idea......

1. MUST have tenants full name for it to work.

2. MUST have other identification (passport number, NI number, etc) to distinguish between Mr Fred Jones and another Mr Fred Jones.

3. MUST state on Rental Agreement that details concerning payment history, condition of property, etc will be submitted to www.[name].co.uk (and give the website business address).

4. MUST state on Rental Agreement that Tenant has the right to access their file (subject to current fee, which I believe DPA states can be anything from £2 to £20 as set by website owner) and request site administrator to investigate/amend any errors. Whilst this is going on the tenants complaint should be displayed against the "error".

5. Anything input into the website MUST list the name of the person who made the submission. The request for a personal file should provide full details of the person who submitted.

6. Website MUST register with Data Protection Act - around £200 per year (I think).

7. The system of indicating whether rental payments were on-time, 1 month late, 2 month late or defaulted is a great idea.

8. Basically, just take the good ideas from the Experian website (not a copy of it obviously).

9. And, most importantly, you MUST charge for landlords to access the service - it should be operated as a professional business and not just a mish-mash of input. Im not talking of huge sums, just enough to limit access to serious viewers and enough to build the business.

I have had a website made myself (www.sunbreaks.co.uk, since sold) by a team in India (www.pragyanet.com) and believe your idea would cost less than £1k to make.

Im not sure whether you would get the positive result hoped for by listing the good/bad letting agents as you would have to inform them of your intention to report their performance on the website, prior to doing business.

I dont think that many agents would allow this - however, if you make a good impression with the tenants website, Im sure the agents would see the professionalism and then sign an agreement authorising submission.

Anyway, that was just my 2-cents worth.

MrShed
08-10-2005, 18:17 PM
I believe it can work without their full name, and hence most of your other points are irrelevant to me...however I totally understand that it would be better with full name, but i do not think it is neccessary.

As to cost....I am a internet software engineer(by field, if not by job title :p) so would cost me zippo to do, as I would be doing it myself :D

Thanks for the input tho

ukrv
08-10-2005, 21:21 PM
MrShed

I would be amazed to know how a database of "bad" tenants could operate without including the tenants name.

Without a confirmed name (etc), any comments posted would be worthless.

I am only guessing your strategy here, but imagine you list a persons "details" and that information includes negative information.

Without a way to specifically pinpoint an individual that information would be :-

1. Useless to everyone.

2. Open to lots of legal threats from everyone who thinks the comments may be refering to them (based on the limited info given).

I would be keen to know exactly what information you would hope to "share" with interested parties to make such a system worthwhile.

Dont get me wrong - I think it is an excellent idea, and would consider paying for such a service when (if) we get brave enough to handle lettings again personally.

MrShed
08-10-2005, 23:37 PM
I do not deny that it is not AS useful. However, the idea would be that the landlord listed a property and a tenancy term, along with perhaps some general comments on different areas, such as rent payment, damages etc. Or perhaps just a rating out of ten. Then landlords ask prospective tenants for prior rentals, and dates, and search on the site and bang it is there. I do not deny it is not as useful as a site with names, however I believe it definitely has some use. I think it has more use than a site with names which would require participating landlords to modify their ASTs, as I do not believe they will do this.

However, while this site idea would not be as great for finding bad tenants, I believe it would work very well at finding good previous tenants, as they are obviously less likely to lie about their previous tenancies.

RichieP
09-10-2005, 08:27 AM
Perhaps I'm stating the obvious or I've missed something, but surely most "good" tenants would have no objections to this and would give permission for their names to be used?

MrShed
09-10-2005, 08:38 AM
True Richie, but two points:

-1st of all....good tenants allowing it, bad tenants not, leads to a kind of technical issue with having to create more than one kind of database...one with names, one without.

- Secondly, I'm not so sure anyway. In these days of internet hacking, identity theft, and obsession about privacy, along with the frenzy the media have whipped these subjects into, I think a lot of people would object.

RichieP
09-10-2005, 09:40 AM
No, you only need one database. Those with "good" tenants. If they're not on it, they're not good. That's how you get round the libel thing. You've not said anything potentially libellous about the "bad" tenants because they aren't on any database. Because they're bad. M'kay?

MrShed
09-10-2005, 09:43 AM
Sorry Richie, got you now :). However, my second point still stands, and also its not like such a database will ever be used by the majority, so if they arent on, they may just not have been entered. Plus, the reason why I was starting to think some kind of rating in each area out of 10, instead of comments, was to avoid any possibility of libel.

ukrv
09-10-2005, 11:02 AM
Oh dear,

Imagine if I was an excellent tenant but my landlord had never participated in your (suggested) website.

By your own admission, you are stating that because I'm not on your list of good tenants, then i am likely be a bad one.

NOW, I would seriously consider legal action.

So, unless you manage to capture the MAJORITY of good tenants onto your site, it really would be pretty worthless.

I think there are far more landlords our there who would keep the names of good tenants to themselves than those willing to share details of bad ones.

Imagine you only have 50% of ALL good tenants in the whole of the UK (how many millions??) - I would have just as good a chance of reaching an informed decision by tossing a coin (50/50) as using your website.

To make it work, the name (and other info) is ESSENTIAL.

In cases of ID theft, anyone who feels information is wrongly entered has the opportunity of obtaining the "file" and requesting that things be corrected.

May I also suggest that one way to work the site would be a Points system :-

For every tenant (good and bad) that a landlord lists, they earn 250 Points.

For every update (ie a monthly tick to confirm rent on time or late) they earn a further 20 Points etc etc.

When a site visitor wants to find information on a tenant, they enter the name and/or NI Number and/or Passport Number and a message stating "Sorry, we do not have any information concerning your enquiry" or "Yes - Information is held concerning your enquiry".

The visitor can then purchase the file details for (let's say) £5:00 or use 500 Points (which is the way to reward landlords for posting).

If such a website was to be established, I think landlords would jump at the chance to participate. You don't feel most landlords would participate - but just think of all those unusual websites that generate huge numbers of visitors and incomes.

If it wasn't for the fact Im leaving the Country for a couple of years, I would SERIOUSLY consider setting this up myself.

Just the add-ons like advertising would pay for the initial set-up and running costs.

MrShed
09-10-2005, 14:55 PM
Again I disagree that you msut have names. And I have never said that if they arent on the site they are a bad tenant, I just said they werent on the site! Richie may have said something different however. However the points system is an excellent idea....well worth considering.

For the names issue, I am thinking about going with making the names optional. If they enter a name, the landlord will have to agree to a set of terms that basically state that they must have had written permission from the tenant in order to do this. In the event of a tenant mentioning that he did not give permission, that "file" would be removed pending receiving a copy of the written permission from the landlord.

MrShed
23-10-2005, 00:05 AM
Sorry again to dredge up an old thread! But thought it was worth posting the reply I got from the data protection people today(from an email off August :eek: ):


The DPA seeks to regulate the use of personal data and will not prevent you from setting up a landlord website as you have described providing you can comply with its requirements.



You will need to notify the activity with our office by telephoning 01625 545740.



Compliance with the eight Data Protection Principles of good practice will also be required. This will involve (amongst other things) ensuring that tenants are aware at the outset (via tenancy agreements) of your intention to share details of the conduct of their tenancy with other landlords, keeping records accurate, secure and providing access should an individual submit a request for a copy of their personal data. The Act does not prevent you from recording the address of the properties involved providing this is not excessive personal data, ie it is relevant to your business needs.

archies dad
23-10-2005, 08:21 AM
I think you're on a hiding to nothing with this database idea.

The databases that you need are already out there in the form of Equifax, Experian etc. These organisations collect data from many bona fide sources to build up a record on an individual.

People behave in certain patterns and leave what the industry calls a 'footprint' (even if they move addresses). If a person has a poor or low scoring record already, likely they'll not make a good tenant.

I believe it's already been mentioned in this thread but proper referencing at the outset, and this should include a check at Experian will put you in a safer position.

If you ignore these checks and merely create a tenancy based on a handshake or your own assessment of the tenant, then you've already accepted the risk.

It's no good bleating about it afterwards and looking to blacklist tenants, because there really is no need for such a list - is there?

MrShed
23-10-2005, 11:43 AM
You make some interesting points, AD, and I agree with most of them to be honest. However, this site(if I ever actually get around to it) is based on slightly different principles than these credit referencing agencies. There are lots and lots of landlords who will be able to tell you of tenants who flew through the credit check, and yet were still bad tenants. Vise versa, there will be many tales of tenants who looked bad on paper, but were took a chance on and were exemplary. It is these tenants the site is intended to catch - bear in mind that being a good tenant is not at all just being able to pay the rent! It is not being agressive, not causing damage, and not generally being a pain in the arse! You can only get this type of information from previous landlords.

Esio Trot
26-10-2005, 09:57 AM
The Australian organisation called TICA was mentioned earlier in this thread, but the one down under. It is still live and kicking in the uk under url http://www.ticagroup.com/

From my recollection the tenants at the start of the application process sign a form agreeing for the landlord to search the database and for the conduct of the tenancy to be forwarded.

For a time in 2003 membership was free, but now they charge £99 a year.

dazalock
26-10-2005, 10:29 AM
Very interesting link ..... Thank you!