Letting agency "credit checks" and experian scores - fair?

Having become debt free it's great. I can see all my money going into savings and I can really move on with my life. I'm even able to start to make some strides towards saving for a mortgage now.

But I'm deeply concerned that I won't be able to move because of the problems which will remain on my credit file for years.

Why?

Agencies, despite not reporting to my credit file, are able to nonetheless make use of credit checks from companies, such as experian, which provide them with information. Much of this is public information which is fair enough. Nothing I have against me that is in the public domain is in anyway detrimental.

Yet appended to this information (none of which is really read by the agencies anyway) is one thing that matters it seems.

A disclosure of my private information to a lettings agency about my credit file in the form of either a score, a risk rating, or in some cases a flat out yes/no answer.

Surely this is on dubious ground legally? Has anyone gone to then information commissioner about it? They aren't lending us money or reporting to our file yet they are allowed some kind of backdoor circumvention into the information which lenders see through an insight in the form of an indicator of some kind.

The fact that they don't disclose the exact details is in my view immaterial. If they aren't reporting or lending cold hard credit then they should be relying on public information and references from previous landlords (I have never -ever- paid my rent late or missed a payment or skipped out on a landlord).

Very interested to hear what others who have worked hard to end their debts and then struggled for things like this. I'm not talking about borrowing money here, I'm talking about the ability to move. Credit reference agencies are denying this of me by providing details of my personal information to lettings agencies through the back door.

I wonder if anyone has tested this against article 8 of the european convention on human rights.

Your thoughts welcome.
Debt free, moved, got new stuff for the new flat - got everything I wanted and need - now just saving.
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Replies

  • I believe (Please someone correct me if I'm wrong) that letting agents only see the "public information" on your report. CCJs and Bankruptcies - I don't think they see late markers or defaults.
    Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?
    ― Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015
  • TrajalTrajal Forumite
    550 Posts
    Debt-free and Proud!
    Angry_Bear wrote: »
    I believe (Please someone correct me if I'm wrong) that letting agents only see the "public information" on your report. CCJs and Bankruptcies - I don't think they see late markers or defaults.

    http://www.experian.co.uk/background-checking/tenant-check.html

    Think again.

    Shocking.
    Debt free, moved, got new stuff for the new flat - got everything I wanted and need - now just saving.
  • Hmm, I wonder when that changed - I'm sure that wasn't always the case. Or maybe it's just certain agencies.

    Anyway, I wouldn't be so pessimistic - be upfront with the agent and ask them to discuss with your potential landlord if/when you've chosen one. My OH and I moved into a new rented place with two large recent (at the time) CCJs on his account.

    Your new potential landlord will have access to your rent history, as that is one question they will almost certainly ask as part of your reference checks.
    Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?
    ― Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015
  • TrajalTrajal Forumite
    550 Posts
    Debt-free and Proud!
    Angry_Bear wrote: »
    Hmm, I wonder when that changed - I'm sure that wasn't always the case. Or maybe it's just certain agencies.

    Anyway, I wouldn't be so pessimistic - be upfront with the agent and ask them to discuss with your potential landlord if/when you've chosen one. My OH and I moved into a new rented place with two large recent (at the time) CCJs on his account.

    Your new potential landlord will have access to your rent history, as that is one question they will almost certainly ask as part of your reference checks.

    Well what irritates me the most is that if you look at the small print in all of the brochures etc, you can see that they do refer directly to public information - just as you said.

    But then, almost hidden in one of the brochures on the second page, they refer to "risk profile" and "highly predictive credit scoring".

    Now this isn't on at all, in my view - they are giving credit scores and supposed predicted behaviour analytics based on missing facts.

    I think we all agree that the first thing you pay when you're in financial trouble is the rent, in the vast majority of cases that don't end up in CCJ/IVA/Bankruptcy land. Yet this isn't reported.

    Thus, the one main thing that many of us will always pay first, and in fact the key thing that we are looking to get (in this case a new landlord) is denied us, based on information about totally separate things.

    Proper bee in my bonnet about this. I will probably have to ask my parents to be guarantors and leave a larger deposit or something, but still, I shouldn't really have to. Yes I've had problems with some debts in the past but never ever the landlord.
    Debt free, moved, got new stuff for the new flat - got everything I wanted and need - now just saving.
  • Hmm, I'm not sure they do see the detailed score information at least not all agencies, or perhaps the only care about CCJs and bankruptcy. Both myself and my OH still have trashed credit scores due to past (now fully paid off) debt however were able to get a new rental contract with no problems or questions from an agency. At the moment we're renting privately which is loads better, no crappy agency fees!!
    Savings target: £25000/£25000
    :beer: :T


  • fermifermi Forumite
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    They shouldn't give access to credit account data. i.e. details of default, payment history etc.

    CCJs etc however are public record information, so will show.

    I think they may possibly show 'aggregated data'. For example, that defaults exist for a given period, but even that I'm a bit dubious over. They certainly cannot see specific details.

    You have to remember that link is a sales blurb. They try to make you think you will get more for your money on the report that you actually will. The sample reports I've seen from such agencies are disappointing to say the least.
    Free/impartial debt advice: National Debtline | StepChange Debt Charity | Find your local CAB

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  • TrajalTrajal Forumite
    550 Posts
    Debt-free and Proud!
    I know that they can't see specific details.

    However, using those specific details, they are given a score about the tenant.

    That's the bit I have a problem with. The score is based on information that they are simply not allowed to see and is not publicly available. (At least that is my understanding of the matter).

    The regulations surrounding who can see your credit file exist for a reason. Through use of a bit of a fudge whereby the details aren't disclosed but a risk indicator taking into account those very details is disclosed makes me wonder if this might be a bit too close to the wire.

    The lettings agencies (to my understanding) are recieving the this information, albeit indirectly and represented as a score rather than broken down in detail, as part of a service when it is not within their (the ratings agencies) gift to divulge.
    Debt free, moved, got new stuff for the new flat - got everything I wanted and need - now just saving.
  • Tia0101Tia0101 Forumite
    96 Posts
    As a Letting Agent myself (don't hate me!) I can only speak for my particular company but whilst we apply for a credit reference we only see public record information. We basically see a score, confirm identity and see any CCJ's and if they're settled or not. I have to stress though that this is Not the only factor in renting a property to a client. We always rely more on previous landlord information, employment reference etc. We are working on behalf of a landlord (in our case they're not our properties) and we have to be able to demonstrate we've done all we can to protect the landlord's investment while remaining fair to our tenants. As someone with a less than perfect score myself I absolutely understand that a credit score isn't the be all and end all and we ALWAYS look at other options, its very rare for us to turn away a tenant and certainly not on a credit score alone. We don't all operate the same!
  • TrajalTrajal Forumite
    550 Posts
    Debt-free and Proud!
    Tia - Thank you for your comment, but I have to point out that I'm not whinging about the agencies themselves as such. They are buying a service which is provided and of course they (you!) will want to see as much as possible.

    My issue is that the score which is listed is based on non-public information. You are recieving information from the credit ratings agencies to which you have no legal entitlement. Not saying that's your fault, I believe it to be the fault of the agencies for deliberately leaking this information through the backdoor etc.

    Any score you recieve should only be based on information that you, as a lettings agency, are entitled to view. Highly accurate scores based on lending, defaults, etc should be off limits for you, and I think we both know that while you don't see the details, you DO see these accurate scores.

    This in my view is a matter for the regulatory bodies of the reference agencies and I plan to take it up with them.
    Debt free, moved, got new stuff for the new flat - got everything I wanted and need - now just saving.
  • fermifermi Forumite
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    http://www.scoronline.co.uk/

    Is the industry body that oversees and sets down principles on who can access what level of data.

    If you want to give yourself a headache, then you can try reading the "principle of reciprocity" document available on that site.
    Free/impartial debt advice: National Debtline | StepChange Debt Charity | Find your local CAB

    IVA & fee charging DMP companies: Profits from misery, motivated ONLY by greed
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