The ultimate guide to finding the right tenant referencing provider for your agency

The ultimate guide to finding the right tenant referencing provider for your agency

Researching and reviewing the best tenant referencing tool for your letting agency can be a frustrating process. It’s absolutely vital that the referencing solution you implement is able to effectively carry out comprehensive and stringent tenant checks, seamlessly integrate with your current technology stack, whilst also being cost-efficient enough to not damage your profits. In a rapidly-changing market, with lots of providers marketing new referencing software, the procurement process can end up becoming stressful and confusing. 

So we’ve tried to simplify this for you by summarising the key differences between Just Move In’s digital referencing platform and the tools available from our rivals. Our comparison below categorises the key features to look for in a tenant referencing system and then provides details on whether they’re included in each product. We’ve taken a view of the full market and compared the likes of Vouch, Tenant Shop, Canopy, Homelet and Blinc, so you can make an informed decision.

We’re confident that our new digital referencing platform outperforms the competition, but we’ll leave that judgement up to you.

At A Glance

Overview

From our research, there are currently around ten major tenant referencing providers operating in the UK and we’ve taken them all into account within this guide: 

  • RENT-4-SURE
  • HOMELET
  • VOUCH
  • TENANT SHOP
  • CANOPY
  • LETTINGS HUB
  • BLINC
  • VAN MILDERT
  • OPENRENT
  • GOODLORD

Each of these providers’ referencing products has their own pros and cons, so it’s worth bearing in mind what the priorities are for your agency, as well as the budget that you have available for this process. Many suppliers offer traditional, paper-based referencing whereas some of the more modern tools (such as Just Move In) offer a digital-first solution, which can provide various benefits. You can find out more about the differences between the two here.

It’s also worth considering the ease of integration with other software being used within your agency and whether your provider offers additional services under their roof. This can help streamline your workflow and ensure your customers have the smoothest possible move experience. 

Checks & Tech

Naturally, the tenant checks carried out by your referencing product need to be extensive and rigorous to ensure that applications are evaluated effectively. As you can see from the table above, Just Move In’s digital referencing platform includes a full breadth of credit checks including Anti Money Laundering andPEP & Sanction checks as well as Right To Rent and Credit Lenders Checks. This is the most comprehensive set of tenant checks of any solution currently available, meaning you can be confident that you have all of the background information on a prospective tenant possible. 

Tenant Shop offer a similar set of tenant checks, however, this isn’t inclusive of an Open Banking integration, which we are due to launch soon. The inclusion of Open Banking technology will give a much more accurate picture of an applicants financial status, as it takes into account their spending habits as well as their income and creditworthiness. In addition, we will also be able to track consistent payments of rent, council tax and any utility bills; all of which combined will give a greater insight into a potential tenants’ suitability.

Along with Canopy, Blinc, Lettings Hub and Goodlord, Just Move In offer a free pre-screening tool, which allows our customers to generate an initial overview of a new applicants suitability before entering the full referencing journey. This means that unsuitable candidates can be filtered out at an early stage, saving your team from wasted time and expense. It will also allow you to easily compare multiple applicants for a single property in a very clear and concise manner.

We are also in the process of implementing ID verification technology, which provides an additional layer of security and peace of mind that the information provided is legitimate. This, coupled with our comprehensive span of additional checks, will, ensure that unsuitable applicants don’t fall through the cracks, leading to some potentially dangerous situations in future.

Ease of use

It’s all very well that your tenant referencing tool is powerful, but if it isn’t usable, then you’re still going to run into some problems. The latest software available is user-friendly and intuitive, meaning that your team will find it easy to immediately adopt and include within their current day-to-day processes, which will then lead to more time-efficiency and fewer errors. 

In general, digital referencing solutions like Just Move In, Vouch and RENT4SURE will usually be more straightforward to operate and faster than traditional, time-consuming providers such as Van Mildert and OpenRent. Instead of having to complete and submit cumbersome forms, then wait as a person manually reviews and interrogates the submitted documents, digital solutions are able to automate many of these processes. The result is a more pleasant experience for the user, a faster service and more visibility of the process. 

But it doesn’t end there. The usability of a digital platform comes down to lots of contributing factors, with user experience and intelligent design being at the heart of them. It’s important to note the accessibility of the user portal and how its features will help support the needs of your staff. Some of the leading providers on this front are Vouch, Canopy and Blinc, who all offer clear and usable client portals as part of their service.

Just Move In’s referencing platform has been built from the ground up to ensure that agents are able to navigate through the software and carry out tasks with ease, on any device. Our Agent Dashboard allows users to quickly see the status of their applications and then allocate or follow-up on outstanding tasks - all within the platform.

You can check invoices, order additional services or marketing material and keep track of any Right to Rent expiry dates. We use a simple and efficient traffic light system to indicate an applicant’s suitability for a property. Comprehensive individual and summary reports provide a snapshot of an applicant's financial position and renting history, enabling the agent to make an informed decision.

Tenant Experience

The experience that your tenant has using a third-party referencing system will reflect on you as an agency, so it’s vitally important that you can trust in the product that you’re using. For an applicant, the referencing process has historically been clunky, stressful and confusing; but with the options now available for digital tools, there just isn’t an excuse for that anymore.

The best digital referencing tools, such as those offered by Vouch, Canopy (and ourselves…), are designed mobile-first as that’s how the majority of users will interact with them. So it’s a good idea to ensure that the interface is easy to navigate on all devices, as this will encourage a positive experience for the applicant. 

Just Move In’s tenant journey has been expertly-designed and tested so that the experience of completing a tenancy application is as seamless and intuitive as possible. Documents can be photographed and uploaded via the application, whilst the status of each stage of the process can be easily seen in the user’s account area.

Additional Services

On top of the tenant referencing functionality, many suppliers offer additional agency services through their platforms that can add significant added-value for themselves and their customers. Not only that, but there can be some significant efficiency gains from employing multiple services from one provider; tenant data can remain within one platform, which prevents the need for manual entries or complex integrations. Through successful procurement, agencies can develop a full stack of technology that provides a smooth journey from initial application through to move-in and beyond. 

There can also be opportunities to generate revenue through additional services provided. Many providers offer bolt-on extras such as utility management, rental guarantees, deposit replacement services and other insurances, which can earn agencies commission when taken up by their customers. Blinc, Rent-4-Sure and Vouch all offer a combination of these services and have varying commission amounts, so it’s worth taking this into consideration when choosing a provider.

Just Move In are able to offer all of these services, on top of our popular Home Setup Service. Our 5*-rated Home Setup Service makes moving home easier and less stressful for tenants, streamlining 12 different services into one quick phone call with a member of our friendly team. We’ll help them with things like informing the local council, switching energy suppliers and finding a great deal on their TV and broadband. Plus, you can earn additional revenue when your customers take up paid services.

Pricing

Since the Tenant Fees Act was introduced, most agents have been tightening their purse strings and looking for opportunities to reduce their costs. This has led to more price-competition from referencing providers, with many newer digital solutions offering bargain basement pricing to undercut their rivals. Traditional tenant referencing involves manual checks being carried out by staff and this naturally causes hefty overheads for these businesses, which are then passed onto customers in the form of bloated prices. 

A basic reference from a digital provider such as Canopy or Vouch will cost around £5, compared to £15+ if you were to use a traditional referencing supplier. Just Move In offers free pre-screening and then charges £7 per reference, which includes detailed reports that cover a comprehensive list of tenant checks.

Book A Demo

If you’re interested in finding out more about Just Move In’s digital referencing service, then click here. From there, you'll be able to register your interest and book a demo.

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