Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but if you do take advantage of what’s on offer there may well be a sting in the tail. Let’s face it, if it seems too good to be true - it probably is.
We’re currently seeing a trend for cheap and even free referencing so why not take advantage? After all, everyone likes to save money wherever possible and if a supplier is prepared to offer a loss leading product for a specified period of time then who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity.
The current direction of travel, however, feels different. We’re now seeing a number of suppliers coming to the market who are offering referencing at rock bottom prices or even at zero cost. How can this be possible?
Some of it will be what’s known as D-I-Y referencing, which can carry significant risks, and other companies are simply out there to grab a bigger market share by discounting to the max. It’s not a sustainable model and, if the business is to survive, the customer will soon see prices rise or service drastically cut.
The lure of free credit checks or basic referencing can be tempting, but here’s why it’s better not to leave anything to chance. An entire tenancy depends on the tenant paying rent and behaving well. If you build on solid foundations then the chances of something going wrong are reduced. Don’t forget that if a tenancy runs into problems, it’s going to be the agency who gets blamed. By using an experienced, specialist supplier - with a charging policy that’s centred in reality - you are outsourcing the risk. Professional suppliers are accountable. Rent4sure is proud to be part of Barbon, the UK’s largest tenant referencing and specialist lettings insurance company. Our group will complete over one million references for new tenancies in 2022, using professional referencing standards, based on knowledge, experience and expertise, that enables agents and landlords to select suitable tenants.
Unfortunately, over the last few years we’ve seen the level of fraudulent applications triple, with increasingly sophisticated methods being used. As demand and rental prices rise, fraudsters are trying to obtain access to properties to support criminal activity or sublet illegally. Managing agents need to be able to rely on experienced referencing partners who will carry out trusted checks on their behalf, using technological advances alongside stringent human oversight. Quantifiable results speak for themselves. If you can prove that your applicant’s referencing is accurate, meets industry standards and can be backed up by enough evidence, then you’re doing everything you can to protect your business and your landlord’s property.
Your reputation is built on trust so why risk your landlord’s biggest asset? The business of carrying out quality referencing requires specialist skills and proper resources. Maintaining the highest standards requires ongoing investment across all areas of the business. A good supplier can never stand still.
We’re really proud to provide rigorous training programmes, with oversight and testing, for new employees at the start of their Rent4sure career. We make sure that they’re equipped to do the job independently and take on that trusted responsibility. Our seasoned staff also receive regular support, training and assessment - it’s all part of the job because so much can potentially go amiss. When what’s at stake is an applicant’s home, a landlord’s asset, and an agent’s reputation, we are going to do everything to make sure you can trust that reference.
Cheap or free checks simply can’t be sustained long term and have the potential to destroy value, driving down quality and choice. Our ethos is that honesty is the best policy and we know our customers respect that. They understand from the outset that they’re paying a realistic price for a quality reference of their choice, overseen by the professionals. When we detect a high risk reference, one of my managers will take responsibility for that individual case and oversee the necessary precautions through each stage of the process. If information such as contact details can’t be verified then the referencing specialist will ask for additional evidence to back those details up. Our teams work to spot questionable documents. When verification is weak, our management team review the case for ‘red flags’ and will alert the agent or fail the reference where it’s appropriate.
It’s this level of scrutiny that customers are paying a fair price for. When times are tough, there’ll always be those who are willing to take the hit in return for more market share but it’s a false economy that’s simply not sustainable. A race to the bottom is not good for anyone. Agents need to be able to outsource this part of their risk management within a transparent, long term partnership and with a supplier they really can trust. There are so many benefits to having a Rent4sure account - and reliable referencing is just the start. While quality checks and in-depth tenant screening underpin everything we do, agents also get a suite of connecting services that will help enhance and safeguard your business. To find out more, contact us today on 0330 088 3774 or click here.