Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Save your money. Don't use 'Tenant Check'

If you're looking for a place to rent through rent.com.au (allegedly 'Australia's #1 rental property website), you may have noticed a banner on the homepage for its 'Tenant Check' service. 'Don't risk missing out on a rental', it implores; 'Check yourself now' with Tenant Check, for $35 including GST.

Better yet, don't. Save your money. There are much cheaper and more effective ways of finding out if you're on a tenancy database.

(Young couple reads credit card statement,
can't believe they threw their money away.)

The simplest way is just to put in your rental applications with agents, as usual. If in checking your application an agent finds that you're listed on a tenancy database, they must inform you (in writing) that you're listed. They must also give you the particulars of the landlord or agent who listed you, contact details for the database operator, and information about your legal rights in relation to getting access to a listing, and getting it removed or amended. (See section 211 of the Residential Tenancies Act).

And if you're knocked back and not told why, ask the agent – and ask specifically whether there was a tenancy database listing.

Now, if you're informed that you are listed, write to the landlord or agent who listed you for a copy of the information they listed. They must provide a copy, free of charge (see section 216).

You can also ask the database operator for a copy (see section 216 again). Note, however, that unlike landlords and agents, the database operators can charge a fee, provided it is not excessive. Most database operators give you a choice: pay a fee for quick access, or get it free if you're prepared to wait a couple of weeks. By the way, the database Tenant Check checks, NTD, charges $15 for quick access, and nothing if you can wait 10 days.

It's true that Tenant Check also checks a bunch of other non-tenancy databases; whether this is at all useful or relevant is another question. But it checks only one tenancy database – and there are several of them out there. 

So for $35 you may well get a blank piece of paper from Tenant Check, but no assurance that you're not listed on some other tenancy database.

Save your money and find out what you need to know using your rights under the Residential Tenancies Act.

And for what to do about a listing that's wrong, unfair or out-of-date, see the Tenants NSW factsheet.

1 comment:

  1. There is a new database called datakatch they say they are a "Tenancy Database and Profiling System". They also claim they give tenants free access to their tenancy database listing. Sounds like a much fairer way to do things. Not sure how many agents use them. Go to www.datakatch.com.au to get a copy of your report.

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