Ahead of the impending ban on letting agent fees, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called on the Government for the creation of an online database of tenant references and payment histories.
The database proposal is included in an RICS policy paper that’s been released ahead of the delayed Housing White Paper, which is now expected in late January.
Questioned about data privacy issues, the RICS insists the proposed database would be voluntary. It could only be accessed to search a specific tenant with their permission, while tenants would only volunteer information in the first place.
The Head of Policy at the RICS, Jeremy Blackburn, believes the proposed system could benefit tenants with poor credit ratings, by giving landlords additional information, such as previous rent payment history. It would also create an alternative to landlords having to pay for referencing once lettings fees are passed onto them.
He explains: “The introduction of a rental database will provide a credible alternative to the tenant-funded credit checks that the Government is proposing to scrap, putting more vulnerable members of society on a more level pegging with more affluent peers, by reducing the likelihood of discrimination.”
Asked for further clarification on how the database would work, specifically regarding data protection, Blackburn says: “Data protection would be expected to be configured under the Data Protection Act, as with any other publicly or privately held database.
“Tenants would voluntarily put forward their information, which would be held centrally and accessed by landlords with the tenant’s permission.
“This builds on the original concept of the tenant’s passport. It also de-risks the landlord and tenant relationship at a time when, through the letting agent fees ban, the cost of carrying out checks on new tenancies has become a political football that will come to rest somewhere between tenants paying higher rents and landlords paying higher fees to letting agents.”
Back in April, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks called for a rogue tenant list to be included in the Housing and Planning Bill.
Landlords, do you believe the proposed database of tenant references and payment histories would be a success?
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