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Advice required - Tenancy referencing

I did post this on my old 'washing machine' thread but perhaps it needs a new thread.

We live in a rental property, now in a position to move and thought we had found a new property. We had agreed to pay the whole year's rent in advance, so finance isn't an issue, but we've heard today that we have failed the referencing and cannot rent the property.

I was told in an email just as the letting agent closed, so cannot find out why until the morning. Does anyone know whether you have the right to find out what has been said in a reference?

Our relationship with our current landlord has broken down completely and she initially refused to give a reference until we gave her written notice. We gave her the notice in writing and she did send a reference. I don't know if it was because of her reference.

We rent the bungalow at the bottom of our current landlord's garden and have to walk up a gravel path though their garden to access it. Their dog messes on the path and they often leave it so we have to clear it up. They have not carried out repairs when needed and the bathroom suffers badly from damp.

They also have no planning permission for the bungalow so it wasn't registered for Council Tax. Our tenancy agreement states that the landlord pays the Council Tax, which they obviously can't do and I'm sure they don't declare the income for tax purposes. It would seem strange therefor for them to give a bad reference if that was the reason the referencing failed.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Comments

  • edited July 12
    Could any of this apply?

    http://www.wibn.co.uk/how-to-pass-a-tenant-reference-check/

    There is a suggestion here that you could be better off without a landlord's reference if it is likely to be bad.

    https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/forum/residential-letting-questions/81318-potentially-bad-current-landlord-reference?79381-Potentially-bad-current-landlord-reference=

    If you are desperate for the property I'd explain the whole situation to the agent and ask them to relay it to the prospective new landlord or alternatively give you contact details so you can do it.

    It's not an unreasonable request given that they've probably stung you for a 'finders fee' or equivalent.
  • Had a quick look @LenGlover

    As we agreed to pay the whole year's rent in advance I don't think the finance side of it would be an issue. I don't think the agent used a referencing agency as all emails went to the agent and I presume they were passed onto the landlord.

    I didn't send actual bank statements as I do paperless banking, though I did download a csv. file which showed all the transactions. I had trouble scanning passport and driving licence but offered to take the originals into their office which I would have thought would be better than a poorly scanned copy.

    I know my employer sent the reference on headed paper attached to the email but don't know about my husband's employer, though I suspect they would have sent an email only.

    I can't seem to find out whether we have the right to know what a referee has written.
  • We've paid £690 already i.e. £240 for referencing and the rest a 'holding fee'.

    If the reference from our current landlord is bad, then I will contact the Council and HMRC - they know we know that they are breaking the law so it would be rather silly of them not to give a decent reference.
  • I don't know whether there are any specific rules applying to references, but I would have thought you could make a subject access request to the letting agent under the Data Protection Act 1998, which will require them to disclose all information they hold about you. They can charge for this (so maybe worth a quiet word with them first), but the maximum fee is usually £10.

    https://www.gov.uk/data-protection/find-out-what-data-an-organisation-has-about-you

    I would exercise extreme caution and consider taking legal advice in respect of the Council Tax aspect. My understanding of the law is that as tenant it is you that is legally liable for this, and the Council can only come after you as the liable person:

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/council-tax/council-tax/

    Councils are potless at the moment and will aggressively pursue any arrears. I don't think the existence of a contract with the landlord would, in the eyes of a magistrate, relieve you of your liability. This would then effectively become a matter between you and your landlord (e.g. you would potentially have to sue for breach of contract), but in the meantime you could have a court order registered against you.

    I am NOT a lawyer, so if I'm talking rubbish then somebody feel free to correct me!
  • edited July 12
    Thanks @Jodaius . That won't be a problem as our tenancy agreement has a clause which states that the Landlord pays the Council Tax.

    I used to work in the collection of Council Tax, so I made sure that was put in the tenancy agreement.
  • When we were in ireland we rented out our house. One tenant paid 6m in advance, a god send to us as we were strapped.
    However he proceeded to use the house as a grow house. Apparently dope growers pay large amounts/periods in advance so they're not bothered by the landlord.
    Maybe offering such a large advance effects things. I know we'd be suspicious of large amounts offered if we had to rent the house out again.
  • Not sure on the referencing side, however paying a years rent in advance is a bit risky is it not? What happens if shortly after moving it turns out they are in mortgage arrears and the bank are about to repossess?

    @iainment is right that it could have raised suspicions paying up front.

    Hopefully the letting agent can clarify in the morning and you can sort.
  • Fumbluff said:

    iainment said:

    When we were in ireland we rented out our house. One tenant paid 6m in advance, a god send to us as we were strapped.
    However he proceeded to use the house as a grow house. Apparently dope growers pay large amounts/periods in advance so they're not bothered by the landlord.
    Maybe offering such a large advance effects things. I know we'd be suspicious of large amounts offered if we had to rent the house out again.

    6million? Lend us a quid
    6months
  • We have already been beaten to two properties that we wanted to rent and therefore told the landlord of this property that we were prepared to offer a year's rent in advance to secure the tenancy.

    Although we are now much better off financially our credit history is not great. This landlord knew about our credit history and was happy to accept a year's rent in advance. We were totally honest about our credit history and they accepted that before the referencing started.

    We can only think it is something in one of the references, which is why we want to know if we have the right to know what has been said.

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  • I had a crap landlord about 5 years ago which me and my flat mate knew would make it difficult to give a reference over, or she would just write a bad one. She basically said unless we paid for bathroom work which she left to get worse, then she wouldn't write a reference.

    We just explained it to the agency who then went by our statements, employers reference and credit check. Everything was fine and they knew we went through the middle man to get our deposit back, which we did in full.

    I would talk to your agency and if there are any emails or paper trail of incidents then show you can back it up you weren't the problem.
  • We have just got back from visiting the letting agent. It appears that it is one of the references so can only think it was our current landlord who has said something against us.

    The lady in the office was very apologetic but needs to speak to a director of the company to find out if they can let us know what was said. The director is on holiday until Monday but they are trying to contact her.

    I'm confident that we have done nothing wrong and that if our landlady is saying that we have then I do have photographs and dates recorded when we spoke. Unfortunately most has been done verbally though I do have some texts.

    The worrying thing is that she will give a bad reference wherever we go.
  • We have just got back from visiting the letting agent. It appears that it is one of the references so can only think it was our current landlord who has said something against us.

    The lady in the office was very apologetic but needs to speak to a director of the company to find out if they can let us know what was said. The director is on holiday until Monday but they are trying to contact her.

    I'm confident that we have done nothing wrong and that if our landlady is saying that we have then I do have photographs and dates recorded when we spoke. Unfortunately most has been done verbally though I do have some texts.

    The worrying thing is that she will give a bad reference wherever we go.

    As someone that has been both a tenant and a landlord I would be disappointed if references were not confidential. Your open willingness to be vindictive to your landlord (not something I'm condoning, by the way) are a very good example of why these things should be confidential.

    Years ago I had a tenant that broke many of the terms of the AST, stole things from the house, racked up hundreds of pounds of debts on Gas and Electric and moved out without giving notice and left the property in a terrible state. When asked, I duly provided a reference that was honest and explained all of the things that had happened. I then received both letters and telephone calls reminding me that they knew where I lived, knew that I had a young son and described what my wife looked like even though they'd never met her. I did contact the Police but they said that it was a domestic matter and that I would be able to take out a Civil Action but that, even though they knew where they'd moved to, they wouldn't tell me where it was.

    I believe that one should provide honest references otherwise they are not worth having at all. If one is willing to lie and give a good reference (for fear of retribution) then one has to accept that the references they receive are not true either.

    I understand your frustrations ME14 but I do believe that references should be confidential.

    In this particular case I must say that following some of the nightmares I've had over the years I would not accept any tenant that failed to qualify for the rental insurance, as I always take it now. If your credit history is checkered and another potential tenant's isn't that might have had an impact.

    I would also be curious of the Letting Agent when the fees they charged you. If they are not applying for a credit search, that costs a few quid anyway, they have virtually no costs at all. If they have banked £240 they I would wonder if you were ever going to get the property and if they didn't just take your money for nothing. Just a suspicion, of course, but that sounds like a great way to make a few extra quid.
  • edited July 13
    I consider myself as a law abiding citizen and perhaps it is my duty to inform the authorities if they are breaking the law. It is not a case of being vindictive @kings hill addick.

    I also consider that we are good tenants, the rent is paid on time ( early in fact) and we have looked after the property. The landlord was advised that a new fan needed to be fitted in the windowless bathroom and that an air inlet also needed to be fitted.

    The landlord has been saying that he would box in the cold water pipe in the bathroom for three years. Condensation constantly pours down this pipe and the wall now has a big hole The landlord has prevaricated on the problems for almost a year - they get someone in to look at it and we never see them again.

    The last time the landlady brought someone to look at it ( on a Sunday afternoon with no prior notice) she had the audacity to blame us for the mould. She told this man that the property was designed so that the internal doors be left open for ventilation, but that we choose not to do that.

    I advised her that I didn't accept that a bathroom door should be left open into the living area in order to ventilate the bathroom. This goes against all advice I've been given when attending fire awareness courses, when the advice is to keep internal doors shut to prevent fire from spreading. Perhaps @Addickted could confirm that for me (hope I've remembered that correctly).

    The landlady has no reason to give a bad reference other than we have complained about having to pick up their dog's mess and the damp problems.

    I am very worried that we will never be able to leave here if she always gives a bad reference which is totally unjustified.



  • You can make an ICO request under the data protection act. They will then have to release all records they have about you which should include references, credit checks and any email correspondence to you or about you. If the reference is in another persons name you'll need to ask them to make this request.

    https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/personal-information/

    It can cost up to £10 and the 'Data Contoller' in this case the Lettings Agent has 40 days to comply.

    It concerns me that the person you spoke to is handling someones data and isn't aware of the above.
  • I have just had an email from the director of the lettings agency who is very apologetic and has advised me that they have never had anyone fail referencing before and they are taking legal advice on the Data Protection side. I did hand them a letter this morning asking for details of all information they hold on us under the Data Protection Act.

    I have emailed them with the saga of all the problems and stating that we think it very unfair that we can't put our side of the story to the landlady of the new property. I have asked them to forward this information to her or arrange a meeting so we can allay her fears.

    It hasn't been a great year for us, with me losing my dad and my husband losing his sister. This was to be a fresh start away from this house and all its problems which looks to have been scuppered by the lies of our landlady.
  • Have spoken to our landlady tonight and she read out the questions posed by the letting agency and the answers she gave .

    It turns out that she has given some incorrect information such as rent, date tenancy started, whether paid regularly and other answers which didn't answer the questions posed at all.

    She has agreed to contact the letting agency tomorrow. It is probably too late but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
  • Have spoken to our landlady tonight and she read out the questions posed by the letting agency and the answers she gave .

    It turns out that she has given some incorrect information such as rent, date tenancy started, whether paid regularly and other answers which didn't answer the questions posed at all.

    She has agreed to contact the letting agency tomorrow. It is probably too late but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Let's hope she keeps her word. I wish you luck.
  • LenGlover said:

    Have spoken to our landlady tonight and she read out the questions posed by the letting agency and the answers she gave .

    It turns out that she has given some incorrect information such as rent, date tenancy started, whether paid regularly and other answers which didn't answer the questions posed at all.

    She has agreed to contact the letting agency tomorrow. It is probably too late but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Let's hope she keeps her word. I wish you luck.
    Thanks Len
  • Yes, hope it works out ok.
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  • I had a pal coming over from USA to work in U.K. for a year. His firm gave him a year's rental allowance in advance.

    When he tried to rent somewhere and pay it all up front - it was a nightmare.
    Landlords thought that something must be dodgy if a tenant is going to pay a year in advance.

    In the end he found somewhere but even then the landlord
    Insisted on weekly visits to the house for the first six months.
  • I consider myself as a law abiding citizen and perhaps it is my duty to inform the authorities if they are breaking the law. It is not a case of being vindictive @kings hill addick.

    With all due respect if you were bothered about he law you would have reported these things a long time ago. Have long have you lived there?

    Yet you are talking about reporting her now when she has given a reference you are not happy about.

    As I said I have no issue with you reporting her but the timing of it makes it look like it is vindictive.

    If she'd given you a great reference and/or made more effort to make your living conditions better would you still be considering reporting her?

    I only mentioned it as the threat of vindication is a real issue and that is why I think references should be confidential, or optional.
  • @kings hill addick we haven't reported it earlier as we were not in a position to move and it would probably have resulted in the Council needing the property to be demolished.

    Spoke to her last night and found that there were several factual inaccuracies in her reference and she has re-written the reference and sent it to the new letting agents today.

    They apparently have different plans for the property after we leave, which involve applying for planning permission. How they will square the fact that the property is there already I don't know, so whether we report them or not may be immaterial.

  • I hope this reference is a good one @ME14addick. Life can be difficult enough without bloody people like your landlady. It makes me so angry that often the only way to get things done is to chase it up yourself and to sort out other people's cock-ups.

    As you can see, I am not in the most tolerant of moods today! x
  • I've bee following this thread but can't really comment as I've only rented twice (for a period totalling about 4 years) during the last 30 so I'm not best placed to answer.

    However, great programme on BBC over the last 2 weeks about landlords moving into their tenants properties for a week to see how they live & cope with their conditions. A real eye-opener for the landlords & suggest that all landlords try it just so they can see some of the ......... they rent out.
  • @kings hill addick we haven't reported it earlier as we were not in a position to move and it would probably have resulted in the Council needing the property to be demolished.

    Spoke to her last night and found that there were several factual inaccuracies in her reference and she has re-written the reference and sent it to the new letting agents today.

    They apparently have different plans for the property after we leave, which involve applying for planning permission. How they will square the fact that the property is there already I don't know, so whether we report them or not may be immaterial.

    So it's ok to turn a blind eye to crime when it benefits you but as soon as there's nothing in it for you....

    My Dad always used to say when you're in a hole stop digging!

    ;-)
  • I have a clear conscience with regard to this. They treat us just like the dog's mess they leave on the path to our property and which we have to remove if we don't want to tread in it.
  • I have a clear conscience with regard to this. They treat us just like the dog's mess they leave on the path to our property and which we have to remove if we don't want to tread in it.

    Although I don't generally advocate acts of vengeance, in this case, if it were me, I would've collected up the dog mess & then knocked on their door with it. Upon opening I would have just said "here, you dropped this" and given it back to them. (in a bag of course)
  • I have a clear conscience with regard to this. They treat us just like the dog's mess they leave on the path to our property and which we have to remove if we don't want to tread in it.

    Good. I have no qualms, at all, about you 'grassing' on them. I would also have done what Golfie says with their dog mess - except I might have passed on the bag.

    I was just making the point, and maybe I'm wrong, that if you (or more specifically tenants on general) are going to do something, mean, based on a reference there is a justification in keeping them private/confidential.

    I hope you haven't taken my comments as an insult, as they aren't, but human nature suggests that if private and confidential comments are going to be made public there can be consequences.
  • The reference wouldn't have been the only reason for grassing on them. They are not good landlords. They're happy to take our money but don't want to spend anything repairs. The bathroom is poorly ventilated and damp but they won't put it right.

    If an untrue reference has been given it isn't right that a tenant can't find out what has been said.
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