Have you heard about the "tenancy risk score"?

It's the brain child of a private company called 'Tenancy Information New Zealand' and in essence, it lets landlords score a tenant on a sliding scale of zero to 1000.

There are some good elements to this -- if you're a criminal being hunted by Interpol, then your landlord will find that out before they rent you their property. In saying that, if you're being hunted by Interpol, you'd like to think our police would have nabbed you before a tenancy information company does. But, well, I guess it's a back up.

And if you've got a history of being verbally or physically abusive towards your landlord, or you've used or made drugs in a house that you once tenanted, then you'll be considered a high risk tenant and your tenancy score will reflect that. Landlords will very quickly realise that you're one to steer clear of.

If you've failed to pay the rent, you'll also get a big black mark against your name, but I don't think that's fair. Sometimes life can take a turn for the worse, people can find themselves in a pickle, and as long as you don't have a long-term history of failing to pay the rent, I'm not sure your reputation should be penalised for life.

And a landlord can also find out how much debt you have and what type of debt.

I would have thought that would be a breach of your privacy, but I assume that information is accessed via a credit check? I'm not sure. That's not clear, but that's quite a lot of information for a landlord to possess -- the level of your personal debt and the nature of it too.

Now, a landlord has to get the permission of prospective tenants before they can run a search -- but if you say no, on principal, then what landlord is going to take you on?

Refuse, and you'll miss out.

But what I want to know is this -- who rates the landlords?

In my time, I've had great landlords, and I've had terrible landlords.

Landlords who didn't miss a beat when it comes to collecting the rent, but who almost disappear off the face of the earth if something in the flat needs fixing, or there's some sort of general maintenance issue -- like the hot water cylinder blows up in the middle of winter. That sort of thing.

So where can tenants go to find out if their landlord is a good egg, or a chump?

Tenancy Information New Zealand says there's no real demand for a landlord check. Really? If there was a system that rated landlords, I'd use it.

And the company argues that landlords have the most to lose -- it's their asset, and they have a right to as much information as possible about those who are going to live in it.

What do you make of this?

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