Rent Payment History:

Most landlords and letting agents are now doing credit checks and referencing on prospective tenants as a matter of course.

Taking on a new tenant without doing these is risky because not only do you not know their financial background, the way they are handling their finances month to month, you don’t know for sure if they are earning enough to comfortably pay the rent, and you’ve only got their word that they’ve been a good tenant before.

By running a credit check on their credit file, you receive a credit score, which usually ranges from 0 (very poor) to 999 (very good). This algorithmic score or ‘rating’ gives lenders and landlords a number that they can work with and they can use this as one aspect of the whole criteria when deciding whether to take on a tenant or not.

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By running a credit check the agencies you use will, by checking someone’s credit file, uncover the following information:

  • full name and date of birth
  • Electoral roll information to confirm current and previous addresses
  • Whether any previous addresses have not be been declared on the tenancy application form
  • Information about all loans, credit card and mortgage accounts that are open, their start date and loan amounts. All accounts closed in the last six years will be listed.
  • Any financial commitments not declared on the application form
  • Current account overdrafts
  • Amount of previous credit application searches and footprints
  • Joint accounts with other people e.g. spouses
  • Any missed repayments and number of times it has happened
  • History of debt including bankruptcy and CCJs
  • Information on whether the person’s identity has been used for fraud

One thing that’s missing from all of these checks is whether the person’s rent payments have been made on time and in full every month?

This could be important both for landlords and tenants as (1) at tenant that’s always paid her rent on time and in full would be at an advantage in securing a tenancy or mortgage, and this information could be valuable in overcoming other negative factors in a report, and (2) the information would be of value to landlords if it is accurate.

The last point is important because, for the reference agencies, obtaining accurate rent payment information would be much more difficult than that obtained from banks and credit card providers.

However, there’s currently a debate going on about whether this information should be included in standard credit checks, many thousands of which are carried out on prospective tenants every day.

MPs in Parliament Monday debated the issue as to whether previous rent payment records should be included in the calculation of credit scores for tenants applying for finance to buy a home of their own.

The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) is in favour of such a move and is calling for the proposals to be introduced. This comes after an RLA survey of almost 3,000 landlords found that 61 per cent would be in support.

The debate was held Monday at Westminster Hall after an online petition demanding that a history of punctual rent payments should be recognised as evidence that mortgage repayments can be met, attracted almost 150,000 signatures

The RLA says it thinks that including rent payment histories in the credit checks would also support landlords, providing them with a more accurate assessment of a prospective tenant’s credit history – and has written to the government proposing this.

RLA Chairman, Alan Ward, says:

“With many tenants wanting to buy a house of their own, it is absurd rent payment is not routinely included when undertaking credit checks for mortgage applications.

“Moving to such a scheme would help not just tenants, but also landlords by giving them a clearer sense of whether a prospective tenant has historically paid their rent in full and on time.”

Rent Payments and Mortgage Acceptability

©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.

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