A new startup is promising to give landlords unprecedented access to potential tenants’ personal information.
Tenant Assured, a new ‘big data’ company, trawls social media to generate a report about a potential tenant’s personal life, financial situation, and personality. They look at factors including Facebook check-ins, as well as mentions of things like ‘partying’ or the frequency with which their relationship status changes.
Crucially, the service also looks through private messages, meaning that landlords receive a much fuller picture than by simply browsing public profiles. For example, if a potential tenant has sent messages including the word ‘loan’, they will be scored lower on the report.
The service is ‘optional’ for tenants but, as with credit checks, it is thought that landlords may require potential tenants to agree to the checks before considering their application.
Will this change the rental market?
Tenant Assured say they see the service as a complement to traditional reference checks and credit scoring, rather than a replacement. Steve Thornhill, the company’s director, told the Telegraph: “Landlords are already doing it. They are already searching Facebook and other social media profiles. Our service consolidates and analyses the information in a more presentable and digestible way.”
But there are concerns about the legality of the service. On its launch in the US, some commentators suggested that it may encourage discrimination based on factors that are protected in some states, including source of income and legal profession.
In the UK, reports from Tenant Assured start at £9.99.
What do you think about the service? Would you use it? Would you agree to it if you were a tenant? Let us know in the comments.