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Key information to consider holding on tenants

There are two checks you (or your agent) are required to make on your tenants before you rent to them:

1. ‘Right to rent’ checks. Since February 2016, under the Immigration Act 2014, you or your agent have been obliged to check that your tenant has the legal right to live in the UK – and you must be able to prove that you have made the check. This means seeing and taking a copy of the tenant’s passport, visa, work permit or other relevant official document. Note: Under UK law, you must keep the copy for the length of their tenancy and for one year after.
2. Your mortgage lender and/or landlord insurance provider may require you to reference your tenants, under the terms of your agreement or policy. That will usually mean carrying out a credit check to make sure they don’t have any County Court Judgements (CCJs) against them and that they’re not bankrupt, seeing proof the rent is affordable and securing a reference from a previous landlord.

If an agent is working on your behalf, they should do this for you, however, if you self-manage or want to double check your agent is doing the right checks, this is the basic information you/your agent should have:

• Their passport, visa or other proof they are legally resident in the UK – keep a copy. This will also give you their full name and date of birth.
• Their current and one previous address
• The last 3 months’ bank statements, to show their income and outgoings
• An employer’s letter stating earnings
• Their previous landlord’s details so you can secure a written reference.

From a security and good practice point of view, you should also keep a note of:

• Their licence plate, if they have a car
• Details of next of kin, in case anything should happen
• Their work address.

All this information should be stored securely, ideally in digital format, and kept in as few places as possible.

What about GDPR regulations?

On 28th May this year, new ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ took effect, requiring landlords and agents to get tenants’ explicit consent to hold and use their personal information. While this is an EU policy, the Government has confirmed it will remain in force, even after Brexit.

So, when you/or your agent is taking information from your tenants, you need to give them clear information on:

• What you need
• Why you need it
• Which third parties will be receiving that data
• Why the third party needs it.

Ideally, put all this down in a document and get the tenant to sign it to avoid any confusion or contradiction in the future. Your tenant has the right to ask you to delete any of their information at any time.

Be aware that if the security of your tenants’ information is compromised – e.g. there’s a break in or someone hacks your computer – you/your agent must let your tenants know and report the breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours - you can do that online here. If you’re found at any point to have breached GDPR, you could face a severe fine, although it’s more likely that for a first offence you’d simply receive a warning and an ‘undertaking to improve’. But to avoid falling foul of the law, here are 5 top tips for ensuring your tenants’ data is always secure:

1. Store the information in as few places as possible, i.e. do you need both a hard and a digital copy?
2. Keep hard copies in a locked cabinet or safe
3. Make sure your WiFi network and all devices are protected with different passwords
4. Store digital data within an EU cloud-based service, as that passes the responsibility of keeping it secure to the provider, whose security is likely to be stronger than your own. Note: The cloud storage must be in the EU, unless the tenant has agreed to their data being stored outside.
5. Permanently delete any data you no longer need.

If your agent manages your tenant and their details, ask to see a copy of their GDPR policies.

 

Because we play by the book we want to tell you that…

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
There may be a fee for mortgage advice. The actual amount you pay will depend upon your circumstances.
The fee is up to 1% but a typical fee is 0.3% of the amount borrowed.

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