Upping the tenant screening ante

Monday 4 December 2017

Vigilance when assessing potential tenants is critical but doing the necessary checking has just got easier for landlords with the arrival of a tenant scoring system.

By Miriam Bell

Tenancy Information New Zealand (TINZ) has just launched its new “Tenancy Risk Score” system which enables landlords and property managers to check and screen tenants online.

The system draws on information collected from various sources to create scores for tenants based on their history and behaviour.

Scores range from zero (bad) to 1,000 (excellent) with a good score coming in at 600-1,000 and a poor score at 500 or below.

TINZ Business Development Manager Ian Barker says the scoring system allows landlords and property managers to better assess a prospective tenant’s potential risk.

Market demand for a risk assessment tool led to the system’s development, he says.

“People who use our tenancy checking service told us they wanted a way to rank tenants and a way to quickly understand the potential for risk when letting a property.”

Another prompt for the launch of the system was technology.

Barker says ratings systems are everywhere now – and they are helping to increase accountability on both sides of the fence, for both user and provider.

“A landlord is exposing their dwelling, often worth hundreds of thousands, to people whom generally they have no prior information about.

“If a tenant didn’t pay rent in the last house or cooked a batch of P it seems important knowledge for making what is essentially a business decision.

“With the technology now available to us it almost seems negligent not to learn what you can about a prospective tenant.”

Scoring information includes credit scores from credit bureau Illion, Tenancy Tribunal orders and court judgments, driver's licence information, and home ownership records.

Ratings of tenants given by other landlords to TINZ will also contribute to scores, but Barker says subscribers will have to abide by a stringent subscriber agreement.

Information on why the tenant has the score they do will also be provided.

Barker says that tenants do have to give their permission - via a Privacy Statement on the Tenancy Application form – before their score can be checked. 

While the system is a first for New Zealand, online tenant checking systems are common in other markets, like Australia.

But Barker says that, as far as he can tell, the TINZ system is the most sophisticated and the first to use technology to create a Tenancy Risk Score.

“With this new technology we are now able to give a more accurate risk grade on how you can expect an individual to perform in a tenancy.”

The Tenancy Risk Score can be found here.

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