Tenant vetting service

Improving the private rented sector In Gateshead - Tenant referencing scheme

The Private Sector Housing Team, within Gateshead Council offers a tenant referencing service. This will be in operation from from 30th April 2018.

The vetting service is available to help and support landlords with properties in the selective landlord licensing areas to determine the suitability of future tenants, contribute towards area improvements including the prevention of anti-social behaviour and crime. This will also support landlords in complying with their licensing conditions 'The licence holder must obtain valid references in relation to potential tenants, in order to make an informed decision regarding their occupancy of the property, before the tenancy commences. References should include details of previous and recent housing history. Evidence of these references and checks must be made available to the Authority upon request'.

In line with current resources licence holders will be offered two vettings per year per property within the licensing area. This has been based on the principle that on average there will be no more than two tenancies per year.  This will operate on the understanding that a licence holder will only send a potential tenant to be vetted when they have undertaken their own informal checks such as meeting the tenant(s) in person and asking some questions including previous housing history and affordability.

How do we carry out a tenant vetting?

We check the applicant's history. The information obtained will help the officer determine the outcome of the application. An officer from Private Sector Housing Team will look at what kind of tenant they have been in the past and will consider if this behaviour could affect a proposed new tenancy or the surrounding community.

What do we need from the applicant to carry out the vetting?

We require a Icon for pdf completed application form [534.38KB] from the applicant which includes a declaration, informed consent form and police check authorisation. We will ask for two forms of identification. By signing the consents, permission is given to get relevant information from other agencies in relation to the application. These could include current and previous landlords, probation service, housing providers, local authorities, social services, Home Office and information relating to criminal records from Northumbria Police. This then informs of the history in relation to areas such as property/tenancy management, rent arrears, anti-social behaviour and criminal offences.

Any information we get from relevant agencies will be held in the strictest confidence and managed in line with data protection.  We will only share if it is subject to required disclosure or if we need to share information with other organisations for the purpose of preventing and detecting fraud and protecting public funds.

How long does it take?

After we receive a completed form and relevant identification, we will give an outcome as soon as practicably possible.   If for any reason we have not reached a decision within 10 working days we will contact the applicant to let them know why.

How will the applicant and licence holder be informed of the outcome?

We will write to the address of both parties, which will be provided on the application form, with an outcome of Category A, B C or D (see table). The officer will offer further advice and guidance if this is necessary. They will be able to advise the applicant of why this decision has been reached. The officer may also be able to signpost them if they require additional support with issues which may be contributing factors to the vetting application outcome (for example debt, drugs, alcohol, tenant related issues). A meeting may be required between the prospective tenant, potential landlord and an officer from Gateshead Council to discuss the vetting outcome. If a meeting is required, then you will need to sign the disclosure before this could take place.

What can the outcome be?

The tenant and licence holder will be notified of the outcome once the vetting checks have been completed and the outcome will be graded into the following categories:

CategoryExamples of suitability
A
  • Good housing history
  • Where the previous tenancies have been successful and there are no reasons to deem it unsatisfactory
B
  • Where the tenant has previously lived with family and there is no previous housing history available
  • Previously the applicant has been an owner occupier
  • Potential applicant has previously lived abroad
  • The information received is inconclusive 
C
  • Short-term rent arrears due to unforeseen circumstances (temporary situation that has or is being addressed)
  • There has been a dispute between the former landlord and tenant and the evidence is not provided by either party to substantiate a claim
D

Applicants will not meet the criteria where the following applies:

  • Any unspent convictions
  • Persistent rent arrears
  • Unsatisfactory landlord references
  • Poor previous property condition/abandoned property

Where the applicant has been known to be involved in incidents of anti-social or criminal behaviour, which is/maybe likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to neighbours and the surrounding community including but not limited to:

  • Rowdy drunken/ drug fuelled behaviour
  • intimidation or harassment
  • Street drinking
  • Noise/other nuisance
  • Assault of neighbours, council staff or landlords

Tenant vetting allows the licence holder to make an informed choice as to whether a prospective tenant is suitable for both the property and the neighbourhood. The decision to grant a tenancy lies with the licence holder and NOT Gateshead Council.

The outcome of the vetting will be valid for a period of six months from issue. Data will be retained for 2 years.

Further information can be found in our Icon for pdf Tenant's guide to the vetting service in a Selective Landlord Licensing area [47.0KB].

If you are a tenant or licence holder and want to find out more about the team and the work they are doing please contact the Private Sector Housing Team on 0191 4333000

Documents

Contact us

Private Sector Housing Team
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Gateshead
NE8 1HH

0191 4333365
privatelandlords@gateshead.gov.uk

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