Vorensys offer class leading tenant screening services direct to letting agents and landlords. Their comprehensive checks include a credit check, income verification and a previous landlord reference. They're also able to assist with your right to rent checks and use anti-fraud technologies to identify false referees.
It's important to carry out some screening and checks before taking tenants in. Here are some things you can do to give you peace of mind.
Right to Rent checks
By law, you must check that potential tenants are legally allowed to live in the UK. You'll need to make and keep copies of the relevant documents and note down the date you made the check. More info on Right to Rent.
Getting your tenant's consent to do background checks
You should ask for your potential tenant's permission before you check their employment, personal and previous accommodation references – and to run a credit check on them.
The easiest way to do this is to ask potential tenants to complete and sign an application form. The form contains the information and contact details you need to make checks, and states that you will use the information to do credit and reference checks under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Under the Data Protection Act you have certain obligations regarding the data you hold on potential tenants. Notably, you must keep it secure, hold it for no longer than necessary, and not use it for inappropriate purposes.
What to do if they provide fraudulent contacts
It's possible that potential tenants providing false references have committed the offence of fraud by false representation under the Fraud Act 2006. Obviously it's not a good idea to accept a tenant who provides false references – but what if you find out after they move in that they gave false information? You'll likely want them to leave and legally this is straightforward – just serve them notice as per your tenancy agreement.
It's fine to do research on potential tenants via search engines and on social networking sites. But it goes without saying that trying to access secure or protected data (like hacking into their email account) is not ok.
As of 2012, CRB checks are now called DBS checks since the Criminal Records Bureau merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority. DBS checks can only be made by an employer and can't be requested by the applicants themselves, nor by private individuals (e.g. landlords).
However, you can request a basic disclosure check on an individual through Disclosure Scotland. You don't need to be a resident in Scotland to do this - anywhere in the UK is fine.
This isn’t a DBS check, but will alert you to any unspent convictions. A basic disclosure certificate either contains information about every conviction of an applicant or states that there is no such conviction. The process requires three forms of identification and can be done online. If you require a prospective tenant to go through the basic disclosure check process you should offer to pay for the information.