All landlords are facing the big question: How to identify the perfect tenant?
The traditional methods such as payroll, credit report, driver’s licence and previous landlord’s references reveal the past, in the best case the present, but isn’t it important to know what to expect in the future?
Using social media to scan your prospect tenant
The new service TenantAssured promises to identify the real personality of potential tenants. This UK start-up created a new platform for landlords which helps analyse future tenants by scanning their social media accounts (including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram). After the permission of the interested tenant, this process not only confirms basic information like the date of birth and employment history but also develops a personality score formed on numerous digital touch points as private and public comments, likes, bought things, or checked in places).
The software is looking for specific key words and highlights areas of concern. The result is the creation of a tailored one-time report. This new tool is not meant to replace the traditional procedures, rather an additional support for the landlord to gather information to make the right decision.
Whereas the old procedures of landlords cost between 20 GBP and 150 GBP, the service of TenantAssured would cost 9,99 GBP for each report.
Why this method can be controversial
Nevertheless, TenantAssured experiences contrasting opinions. First of all, confidential data will be scanned in detail and with rising popularity it can bring back the discussion about privacy and personal data as landlords renting houses in popular area could demand the access to social media accounts, simply because the information are available, following the argument “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear”.
Secondly, opponents say that scanning keywords is a crude method to measure something as fluctuating and relative and “financial stress. According to the Telegraph authors, who did a self-test found that some keywords trigger financial issues, such as “loan”. As an author in the financial sector, it is natural to use the word, which caused a worse rating than expected.
BUT it can be beneficial to tenants
The founders, on the other side, argue that not only the landlords benefit from their product. Also, the tenants would gain an advantage, as more and more interest, especially the millennials, do not have a credit score leading to a rejection. Due to TenantAssured they would have a second opportunity to proof their suitability for the desired property.
Moreover, the confidentiality concerns are weakened as it will be only a one-time file on the permission of the tenant. There will not be any further surveillance. Although the problem of the crude metric caused by the keyword method is well known, it is argued that TenantAssured should only work alongside the judgement of the landlord itself.