Asking prospective tenants for proof of income and a landlord reference is standard practice, but what about a CV or an application photo?
Tenant vetting procedures are in the spotlight after tenants reported being asked for photos, personal statements, or their LinkedIn profiles by letting agents. According to a tenant who came forward, all 10 applications he made for properties in London in December and January required a bio, and one asked for a picture as well.
Tenant activist groups say that some of the practices go too far, with Generation Rent’s Dan Wilson Craw calling them “a recipe for discrimination”. The National Residential Landlords Association also condemned them, saying that the only criteria landlords should use when selecting tenants were those that demonstrated their ability to sustain a tenancy.
But in tight rental markets where dozens of tenants are competing for top properties, many are trying to stand out from the crowd. According to London letting agency Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, the agency named in the media stories, it isn’t uncommon for applicants to send profiles. Prospective tenants are also bidding over the asking rent and offering large upfront payments to secure homes.
On the other side of the transaction, landlords worry about the potentially enormous cost of taking on a rogue tenant. According to industry expert Paul Shamplina, Founder of Landlord Action, it can take up to a year to secure an eviction thanks to long court delays – and depending on how evictions are handled in the upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill, that wait could get even longer.
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