What is a Landlord Checking Service?

Explore the benefits of a landlord checking service and how it can help you manage your property efficiently.

As a landlord, one of the most crucial steps you can take is to thoroughly screen prospective tenants before approving any rental applications. Using a professional tenant checking service performs this due diligence for you, conducting comprehensive background checks on all applicants.

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What is a landlord checking service?

A landlord checking service reviews tenant applications and profiles to assess potential risks for landlords. Checks typically include:

Right to rent status - Confirming a tenant can legally reside in the UK. This is a legal requirement for landlords.
Previous landlord references - Contacting former landlords to obtain rental references.
Credit history - Checking credit reports for any red flags around payment.
Criminal background - Screening for relevant offences in tenant history.
Rental history - Verifying details on previous rentals and compliance.

By submitting tenant information, landlords receive a risk profile on applicants based on the screening results. Checks are done on all adult occupants planning to live in the property.

This service provides peace of mind that you are selecting responsible, reliable tenants for your property. Responsible screening also promotes a fair chance for all applicants.

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Why do landlords need checking services?

Using a qualified checking service offers landlords several benefits:

Complying with right to rent requirements - Avoiding major fines for not checking immigration status.
Reducing risks - Vetting tenants thoroughly minimises chances of issues.
Financial protection - Screening helps avoid losses from irresponsible tenants.
Tenant accountability - Documents history to hold tenants responsible.
Fair tenant selection - Uniform screening gives all applicants equal chance.

Thorough screening is a win-win, providing protection for both landlord assets and tenant rights.

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The Fair Housing Act and tenant screening

The Fair Housing Act has important implications for the tenant screening process that landlords and property managers must be aware of. Screening applicants for rentals is permitted to assess if they will be able to pay rent reliably and properly maintain the property. However, the screening procedures and criteria used cannot discriminate against races, colours, national origins, religions, sexes, families with children under 18, or individuals with disabilities - the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.

Landlords cannot deny applicants or treat them differently on the basis of belonging to a protected class. There cannot be blanket bans against renting to families with kids or to individuals of certain ages or disabilities. Each applicant must be evaluated on their own merits and landlords and screening service providers must apply screening criteria uniformly. For example, credit score requirements should be applied consistently across applicants rather than targeting groups covered by the Fair Housing Act protections.

Rental applications also cannot ask questions that discriminate by inquiring about an applicant's race, whether they have children, their religion, marital status or other protected traits. Arrest records should also be avoided and conviction records checked instead to avoid inadvertently discriminating. Furthermore, reasonable accommodations must be made in the application process if needed by applicants with disabilities, such as providing documents in large print or allowing translator services.

While screening allows landlords to assess if an applicant can pay the rent and properly maintain the unit, it must be done responsibly and without violating the Fair Housing Act protections.

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Insurance from Towergate

As an insurance provider, Towergate offers policies to protect landlords and properties:

Landlord insurance - We insure various property types and tenants and can cover buildings, contents and loss of rent.

Commercial property insurance - Protect your real estate investments from a range of insured perils such as fire, storm or flood. You can include loss of rent and Property Owners Liability. Ask us for full details.

While we do not directly offer tenant screening services, we recommend landlords use qualified checking services for applicant background checks. Contact Towergate to learn about insurance options for your rental property or real estate portfolio.

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What documents should I check for right to rent?

You can ask to see passport, visa, residency permit or other official documentation that verifies a tenant's legal status in the UK. Take a look at the government guide on right to rent checks.

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Do I still need landlord insurance if I use a checking service?

Yes, tenant screening reduces risks but cannot fully prevent issues. Insurance provides important financial protection if damages or loss still occur. The two services work together. Remember, unforeseen events such as fire or storm can still occur causing considerable damage to your property, with the additional concern of potential loss of rental income to consider whilst the property is uninhabitable.

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Commercial property insurance from Towergate

We can offer cover for a range of commercial properties from our trusted network of leading insurers.

You can place just one commercial property or a whole portfolio under one policy, including standard and unoccupied residential and mixed-use buildings.

Enquire now for a commercial property insurance quote, call us on 0330 828 0512 or request a call back.

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Landlords insurance from Towergate

We provide landlord insurance for a wide range of properties and tenants including multi occupancy, students, local authority placements, unoccupied and much more. See our landlord insurance page or call 0333 060 0915 for more.

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About the author

Alison Wild Bcom Hons MAAT MATT Taxation Technician Commercial Tax Pensions Insurance And Marketing Specialist AuthorAlison Wild BCom (Hons), MAAT, MATT, Taxation Technician is a highly respected industry professional who has been working with and advising SMEs in areas including tax, pensions, insurance and marketing for over 25 years. She is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and also has 20 years' experience as a residential landlord.

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The information contained in this article is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such.