The Importance Of Thorough Tenant Referencing

Date Published 14 March 2012

A successful tenancy can only be achieved by selecting the right tenant for a property. From the very first phone call made to book a viewing we will be making sure we take as much information in as possible to ensure that the applicant is right for the property.

When ‘John Smith' called our office he seemed pleasant, professional and keen to view a newly refurbished 1 bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Manchester City Centre. Emma conducted the viewing with him and again, he seemed very professional, well dressed, nice car and good manners. Up to now he was the ideal applicant. He proceeded to take the apartment and paid our application fee to take the property off the market and start the application process to move him in to his new home!

We received ‘John's' application forms in within a matter of days along with some accompanying documents.

It turns out ‘John Smith' isn't his real name! Straight away we are cautious about this but it is everyone's prerogative to have a secondary name if they want, so we proceeded to look in to the application. We noticed that for his proof of identity he provided a provisional driving licence, but wait, he turned up to the viewing in a nice car, on his own, with no ‘L' plates. As you can imagine, more alarm bells are ringing at this point. We needed to speak to him so we called and asked why he changed his name; he told us that due to the complexity of his name it has always been easier to use ‘John Smith'. This is a fair point, it took me a few times to work out how to pronounce it and I'm still not confident that it's right! We asked how he drove to the appointment when he only has a provisional driving licence; this is where it gets interesting. He explained that it wasn't him who did the viewing! It turns out that the person who did the viewing was called ‘John' as well!

At this point we can't go any further with the application without some explanations. We asked him to come to our office to discuss things.

When he arrived, well dressed, presented and mild mannered, Emma confirmed that he was the one who viewed the property. He explained that he viewed the property but his friend, ‘John Smith', was the one who booked the viewing in on the phone. This was wrong, or just very coincidental that his friend had the exact same American accent as he did! We asked about his driving licence and he told us that he couldn't find his full driving licence, or his passport. We asked him if he could provide a copy of his tenancy agreement, he advised that he would get this for us and we would take a look over it to confirm any details. The applicant went away and for now everything was still up in the air, meeting him did answer a couple of queries but nothing was certain at this point.

I proceeded with the referencing so that I could find out more information. You have to remember that we never want to ‘fail' an applicant, when we do; we have to be 100% certain it is the right decision.
I called his employer, his receptionist answered, I asked for an email address to send out our referencing form and she advised that it would be best if he called me back. I left my number and waited for his call.

In the meantime I called his current landlord on the number he provided, he answered, I explained who I was and what I was calling for, I asked for an email address to send out our referencing form but unfortunately he didn't have internet access as he was out of the country – wrong, there was no international dial tone when I called him. I left it at that with the intention of calling the applicant to explain the situation. If I got the tenancy agreement this would prove his residency, the amount he paid in rent and the term of his agreement. All I would need after this would be confirmation from the landlord that he paid his rent on time and looked after the property.

Before I could call the applicant he called me, he was asking how the references were coming on. I explained that I was waiting for a call back from his employer to get an email address and his landlord was out of the country and couldn't get internet access to email me the details I need. He said he would look in to it and get them to call me back. I asked him if he had the tenancy agreement, apparently he had lost this, along with his driving licence and passport. – Conveniently.

10 minutes later I receive an email from the applicant with the email address for his employer. The address was in a basic format ‘' I decided to search the ‘' – ‘This domain has recently been added'. In my head I am thinking: ‘he wouldn't go as far as registering a domain name to make an email address, surely?' Intrigued to see what came back I sent the employer referencing form off to the email address.

In the middle of doing so I receive a call from the applicants landlord, who was ‘abroad'. He had an email address to give me and suddenly had access to email! – really? Again, I proceeded with sending the landlord reference off to this email.

No more than 5 minutes later I receive the form back from his employer, confirming everything I need. Then, whilst printing the form off, his landlord reference also came through! Great! Everything is coming together. But wait, both of these scanned images of the forms look very similar. They have the same lines running through the same parts of the page and they are both very similar in colour. I open up the properties of the landlord reference and can see that the scanner used to send the image over was a ‘Canon MP240' printer scanner. The exact same device was used to send the employer reference over!

This is the final straw, Wayne calls the applicant and explains that due to all the information we have gathered and all the false information we have found we will not be able to proceed with the application and ‘John Smith' will not be moving in to the property.

The applicant accepted this, didn't fight about it and has never returned to us.

Explaining this to the landlord was a delight as we have potentially saved her from a very bad tenancy.
At We Let Properties we have to ensure that every applicant is 100% perfect for the property.

James Glenn