Debt Letters – My tenants are complaining that a lot of debt collector’s letters are arriving at the premises from a previous tenant. They are worried that this may affect their own credit records. What can I tell them?
As any experience landlord will know, one of the features of letting property is the mail that continues to arrive, weeks, months and sometimes even years after a tenant has left.
Even when tenants pay to have mail re-directed, the odd letter will still get through. It’s important for tenants, as well as for landlords who have lived in a property previously, to ensure that all important mail senders, such as banks and credit card companies, are notified of a change of address without delay. Otherwise it can be an open invitation to fraud and identity theft by anyone who opens the letters.
Debt letters which follow previous tenants are also a common feature. New tenants naturally worry that their own name can become linked to the debtors, through the property address. This can be particularly acute where by some coincidence the new tenant’s name is the same or similar to the previous ones.
In fact, debt records are linked primarily to the person’s name, with the address as a secondary consideration. This is why credit reference agencies ask for addresses of subjects going back several years in case there are debt records and county court judgements recorded for the time they lived there.
So, if there’s no financial link between the new and the old residents, there’s little chance of the two being linked and having an adverse affect on credit ratings, unless by some fluke, like having the same name.
However, as a precaution you could advise your new tenants to contact the three main credit reference agencies: Experian.co.uk, Equifax.co.uk and CallCredit.co.uk to tell them that there is no financial association between them and the previous tenants, that they no longer live there and the date they left.
It’s also a good idea to contact the local council electoral role section to update records regarding occupants, and when the previous ones left. Any new mail arriving should be re-directed with the words – return to sender, no longer at this address. It is an offence to open other people’s mail.
Finally, it’s a good idea for everyone to apply for a copy of their credit report, perhaps annually on a rotating basis to each agency. For a small fee you can check for any errors and have them corrected before they affect your credit score.
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