Finding out a tenant has absconded after they’ve not paid rent or damaged your property is a terrible situation for any landlord to face. According to a recent poll it happens to one on every seven tenancy agreements but what can you do to protect yourself against it happening?
Here Ryan Shaw Tenant Tracing expert at People Tracing Experts talks through how to best protect you against tenants if they do abscond.
More renters mean more rent arrears…
So tracing ex tenants is becoming big business but what can landlords do to protect themselves from this inevitable part of their business?
Most landlords sensibly collect information about potential tenants before handing over the keys to their property, some even perform preliminary checks on them, and this helps to clarify the tenants past and gives an opportunity to search for CCJS and insolvency information.
Performing checks is a great idea to minimise your risk but there is more that you can do to protect yourself in the event that a tenant does abscond. There is certain information that you can take from the tenant that will make tracing them to a new address relatively straightforward. In simple terms the more information you can collect on the tenant the easier (and cheaper) tracing them will be…
A landlord should look to obtain at least the following information from potential tenants
This information includes
- Their full name and proof of this name
- Date of birth – Not just their age
- Previous addresses – Go back at least five years
- Family members addresses – Always worth asking for the parents address, especially if the tenant is under 30 years old
- Middle name – Can be a great way to cross reference that its the correct person.
- Partners name
- Work details
- Mobile telephone numbers – these can be cross reference to search for new addresses
These details are all important for a trace agent to be able perform a successful tenant trace on your absconded tenant. Some are not needed to perform a search but can be key to making sure the correct person has been traced. Hopefully you take this information put it in a file and never have to look at it again.
Selecting a reputable tracing company…
New Credit Services Association guidelines tell trace companies what data they can use and what approach they must take to trace an individual. As long as these guidelines are adhered to by the trace company then you can use the information they provide in court should the matter escalate to that level. So make sure the trace company has CSA membership. If they have this they will also be able to access a higher level of information on your ex tenant.
Tracing them yourself…
In 95% of tenant trace work the tenant has moved on within the last three months, in cases like this the electoral roll will not help to locate the ex tenant, due to the fact that it is only updated once a year. You are not going to be many opportunities to tenant trace via the internet, unless you get lucky with an ex tenant who blogs or uses Facebook and reveals their whereabouts this way, because of this it is recommended that landlords use a professional tenant tracing service to locate absconded tenants.
Once a tenant has absconded it can be a frustrating time as you have to wait long enough for systems and databases to be updated with the new address, this can take approximately six weeks but once the databases have been updated, a new address can be obtained immediately.
Under the radar…
Many landlords believe that the tenant will not be able to be traced as they will be under the radar, the truth is that there are so many companies who sell personal information it is almost impossible to do this. 95% of tenants will appear at a new address on the high level systems within 3 months of leaving the previous address, no matter what tactics they use to evade you.
Using the courts…
If an ex tenant owes you money and you cannot settle things in any other way, you may decide to issue a claim through the county court.
County courts deal with all these types of claim. You will sometimes hear people talk about the ‘small claims court’. What they really mean is the special procedure for handling smaller claims in a county court.
Going to court should always be a last resort but even if you take the matter this far you will still need your ex tenants new address so it is imperative that you have used a reputable tenant tracing service to obtain this.
Landlords can never stop tenants absconding but can take measures to safeguard against them doing so. The key is obtaining key information before you give them the keys to your property.