Hundreds of letting agents pre-sign up to new service which will launch tenants’ ‘passports’

Hundreds of letting agents and landlords are said to have signed up to a new site which, from this spring, will review tenants and could potentially help agents ‘reference’ prospective renters ahead of the ban on letting agent fees.

Movem last year crowdfunded £200,000 to launch the new service, designed to help agents and landlords avoid letting properties to bad tenants.

The new service, launching in April and based in Brighton, will allow agents and landlords all over the UK to recommend tenants and help build a tenant’s ‘rental passport’.

Agents and landlords will also be able to view a prospective tenant’s passport, including references, payment history and other personal information.

Tenants will be able to build their own online rental passports, with full control over their own privacy.

Nobody will be able to buy access to these tenants’ passports, and there will be no public directory of tenants.

Instead, the tenant must grant a particular Movem user access to view it through the website. Tenants can revoke this access at any time.

Movem has been founded by Peter Ramsey, whose previous product, a student housing review site, is now being used in every university in the UK and is publicly endorsed by 25 student unions.

Ramsey said: “We believe we are about to launch a real alternative to traditional listing websites, which have been providing the same form of anonymous leads for decades.”

The launch comes ahead of the ban on letting agent fees, which as things stand will stop agents from being able to charge prospective tenants for referencing – although it is not clear how the new service will monetise itself.

The idea of a ‘tenant passport’ has already been mooted as one potential innovation in the industry, although it has been widely suggested that this should only be valid for six months to a year.

The existing student offering, which also allows tenants to review their landlord and/or agent, can be found here

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16 Comments

  1. UKtenantdata

    This has been tried before without success and is open to fraud. Agents and landlords need a service that is based the on facts and has real and experienced processing teams under the bonnet.

    Profiling tenants isn’t just about running a credit check and stumping up a few payslips, it requires a skilled individual to look for anomalies in their application, and this requires skill along experience.

    Agents need a decision, a decision based on true facts. Without this process a tenant passport will nothing more than a document reprositary full of outdated and poor at best information.

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    1. pierce

      I think referencing companies need to wake up and smell the coffee. The ban is imminent and referencing companies need to adapt, just like us agents have to.

      Whilst you and “the other site” offer a similar service, this may be a free or cheaper alternative which allows agents and landlords to minimise the losses the government are starting to impose

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  2. AgentV

    Gutted…. I had a very similar idea two years ago…but no funds or expertise to develop it. Someone else has got their first now…typical.!! Oh well …back to the drawing board.

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  3. Woodentop

    Data protection immediately came to mind, so what you do with the information from this web site needs careful consideration by staff. Clearly there needs the authority of the tenant to gain access.

     

    So the tenant can block access to information (that’s is if they even agree to sign up in the first place), preventing disclosure of the information on who good they are or not!. Now which ones would want to do that ……. bad tenants ………… defeats the object of weeding out bad tenants.

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    1. PeterRamsey46

      Hi Woodentop

      Thanks for commenting, I thought I’d clear some of this up for you.

      Movem Passport has been in R&D for nearly 12 months, as we work on how to accurately, reliably and securely give the right tenant Passport to a particular agency. Privacy is key with this, which is why we’ve opted for a private directory, i.e, there isn’t an amount of money that will let you buy a tenant passport.

      We will also not be using tenant passport information to target advertising, sell to 3rd parties or pre-empt leads. This is entirely controlled by the tenant. A tenant has to opt-in to this.

      As for the “benefits only bad tenants”, I’m not sure you’ve understood what we’re trying to do here – which may be an error on our part for explaining what we do. A tenant must opt-in to create a passport. Without one, they will just show a basic enquiry, like Rightmove or Zoopla, therefore only tenants with something positive to show, would benefit from one.

      If there’s anything else you’d like to ask, I’m happy to help you out.

      Best regard

      Pete, (Movem).

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      1. Woodentop

        Thanks for the heads up. I appreciate that tenants have to give authority but will a bad tenant do this, is my point.

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        1. PeterRamsey46

          Hi Woodentop

          No, they probably won’t, which is why receiving a good tenant passport is so valuable.

          The way I try and talk about it is; the enquiry you get from Rightmove or Zoopla is basically anonymous. You really know very little, if anything, about that person.

          A tenant not doing Movem Passport, because they’re a ‘bad’ tenant, is no more risky than a generic lead through Zoopla.

          Thank you again.

          Pete

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          1. Woodentop

            Agreed, if they have the passport they should be good tenants and helps considerably and this is a good thing and is really what you are offering and to be congratulated.

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  4. ringi

    What a good idea!    Peter Ramsey has seen a real need to streamline the referencing process.
    However Landlordreferencing at the start of this year lunched “Referencing Passport for tenants”, and it is accepted by tens of thousands landlords and agents that already use their referencing services.       The “Referencing Passport for tenants” clearly states when a tenant is eligible for RGI and builds on the extensive database of tenant history that has been build up since 2010.  
    It would be great if Peter Ramsey would combine his stronghold in the student letting market and graphic design skills with Landlordreferencing to create a unified solution.
     

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    1. PeterRamsey46

      Hi Ringi

      Thank you for being so kind about my design work.

      Although we can see that LandlordReferencing has made some good ground, we believe that what we’re working on now, and will launch in a few months is significantly different.

      Anything else, get in touch.

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      1. ringi

        Hi Peter,
        I am just a customer of LandlordReferencing.   Nothing you can do will beat the database they have for establish tenants.    But if you aimed at ex students finding the first flat (or HMO room) to rent when they get their first job, you may have a chance.

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  5. MartinCo40

    Martin & Co investigated two routes to continue to generate revenue for our agents in Scotland when the tenant fee ban came in there. One was the idea of a “passport” which the tenant buys and is recognised by all agents as effectively pre-authorising that person as being suitable for a tenancy up to a pre-defined monthly rental limit. Sales pitch to the tenant is that it puts them at the front of the queue. The other was a deposit protection warranty which costs a fraction of the normal deposit and which pays out if the tenant leaves the property damaged. There was commission payable to the agent in both cases.

    However, we took Counsels opinion in Scotland and both schemes were regarded as at best “grey areas” but most probably illegal. The fact is that Scottish law is very clear, landlords and their agents can only charge tenants rent and deposit. Period. No if’s but’s or maybe’s. I’d  be astonished if the new English & Welsh law is drafted on a looser basis.

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    1. PeterRamsey46

      Hi MartinCo40

      You’re right about data protection, as it’s something we’ve obviously been working around.

      As with anything, there are different ways to approach things, and there may be some confusion here as to what a ‘passport’ really is. The benefit of building a working ecosystem first (which we’ve been doing for 4 years), and then developing long-term features like this, is that we’ve had plenty of time to analyse, refine and discuss this with our current audience.

      We too have been using our QC, in conjunction with the ICO to ensure we’re creating something that’s not just in a grey area, but scalable and entirely legal.

      We’ve actually had a branch of Martin & Co already pre-register for an account at launch. I’m unsure if this is ‘the’ Martin and Co, as your role in the company, however I’d be more than happy to chat with you, or your team, in a bit more detail about this. Feel free to get in touch.

      Either way, thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Best regards

      Peter, (Movem)

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    2. ringi

      This about sums up the problem with rental agents, Martin & Co only care about their income, not about what is best for ALL tenants and ALL landlords.   Any system to work must be designed for the benefit of the clients not to increase the income of a letting agent.
       
      I expect that in Scotland a “tenant passport” that was optional (so not required by the agents) and not sold by the agents would be OK, as a tenant buying it would not be paying a fee to an agent or landlord.   An agent could use the passport along with other information to decide if it was worth their time and money to reference check the tenant.
      Maybe there could be a discount on the first month’s rent equal to the cost of a tenant getting the passport, just reducing the length of a void by a few days due to quicker referencing etc could cover the cost of the discount.

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  6. PeterRamsey46

    Good afternoon 

    Peter, (Movem), here. Thank you PropertyEye for publishing this, it’s been great to read the comments.

    If anyone would like to chat about this, get in touch.

    Best regards

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  7. TehWardy37

    This has to be a joke right?

    This screams of letting agent desperation to get a hold on the fact that can’t over charge for the simple checks they need to perform.

    1. credit.
    2. Immigration status.

    Anything else is hearsay or rumour, such a passport just gives lettings agents a place to bash tenants for not liking unfair contract terms.

    Letting agents should be banned IMO and the government should put up a portal that does the checks for you, with the tenant having to authorise the check, have it work just a credit check check and give only pertinent information.

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