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Renters’ Financial History Opens More Doors Than Salary

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  • 62% of landlords and letting agencies choose who to rent to based on their financial history
  • Landlords state someone’s history is more influential than their current salary
  • 39% don’t necessarily tell a tenant applicant if they fail a credit reference check
  • Renters risk losing out on properties by failing to manage their credit report and score

With as many as 14 people battling for each available rental property1, landlords can pick and choose who they rent to. The majority of landlords in the UK – 85% – will now run a credit check on possible tenants and make their decision based on what they find. UK landlords say an applicant’s financial history is more influential to their decision than someone’s current salary with 62% of UK landlords stating someone’s credit reference impacts their decision, compared to just of 41% who take salary into account. For a full explanation of what your credit score includes check ClearScore.com.

What impacts whether a landlord will let you a property
1 Financial history/credit reference 62%
2 Age 44%
3 Salary 41%
4 Job sector 37%
5 Personality 30%
6 Marital status 20%
7 If you have children 13%

Those with poor financial histories are in danger of experiencing a cycle of rejection as 39% of landlords admit they don’t always tell an applicant if they fail a credit check. And as research shows that 32 million Brits haven’t checked their own credit score, a huge number of Brits could be unwittingly making their house hunt harder.

People looking to rent in London are most likely to face credit checks to get their desired property, with 95% of London landlords choosing to credit check their prospective tenants, followed by East Midlands and the North West.

Rank Area % of landlords performing credit checks
1 London 95
2 East Midlands 94
3 North West 93
4 Yorkshire 91
5 South East 91
6 West Midlands 90
7 East England 88
8 Northern Ireland 83
9 Scotland 82
10 Wales 81
11 North East 81
12 South West 73


Justin Basini, ClearScore founder and CEO commented
, “With demand for rental properties outstripping supply, landlords can hand pick tenants and many prioritise those with the strongest financial histories. As there is no sign of the housing crisis slowing down, taking control of the factors you can change – like your credit score – could help you secure your dream property in a competitive market.”

Justin’s six tips to improve your credit score:

By actively managing your credit score, you will boost your chances of securing your dream home and don’t forget to update all your address details with bank and utility companies when you move in.

  1. Sign up to see your credit score – you can get can your free score and report at ClearScore and track your progress using our Timeline.
  2. Check your report thoroughly, regularly and always before applying for credit – report and correct any mistakes you see as this could be damaging your score.
  3. Make sure that your bank and any credit providers have your correct address.
  4. Ensure you’re registered on the electoral roll – this is a very simple way of boosting your score.
  5. Make sure that your name is on some utility accounts – the greater the evidence that you borrow and repay your credit regularly, the better your credit score will be.
  6. Your score will increase if you use a smaller percentage of your available credit limit.

Sources:

1 ClearScore data arrived at by surveying 500 UK landlords and letting agents 25.10.16 – 28.10.16

2 February 2016 survey

About ClearScore:

ClearScore (www.clearscore.com) is a free service which allows consumers to access their credit report and scores for free as often as they need or want. As well as offering a 100% free service, ClearScore also guarantees privacy – promising to never sell customer data. ClearScore has partnered with credit reference agency and insights provider Equifax to deliver the credit reports and score data. The product matching service is delivered in partnership with TotallyMoney.com.

Media contacts:

Hatty Webster / Thom Norman 0207 924 5656 ClearScore@capellapr.com

Apartment Rental Tips

apartmentTwo friends of mine are in the process of looking for a new apartment to rent.  They’ve been living in a place owned by some family friends, but they’re looking to find a place closer to their respective jobs, so they’re currently hunting for a good apartment that meets all of their needs.

Here are a few things that I learned or that I wish I had known when I was renting my first apartment.

First off, figure out the bottom line.  What will the apartment cost you in total?  Lots of places seem to be breaking apart their total fees.  So you pay one amount in rent, plus an amenities fee, plus a pet fee, plus a parking fee.  On one hand, this is nice. If you don’t have pets, you don’t want to pay more.  And you don’t want to pay for a parking spot you will never use.  On the other hand, even if the state laws say that your apartment rent can only go up by a certain percent each year, that doesn’t mean those additional fees can’t be raised.

For example, when I first moved into my apartment, I had to pay rent plus a pet fee.  Amenities (a gym and an outdoor pool that was kind of gross) were all included.  Parking was also included.  My roommate and I had a two bedroom apartment so we could have two parking spaces.  A few years after we moved in, policies changed.  Our rent had been going up every year, but we just dealt with it.  Then one year, they announced a new policy.  Parking spaces were no longer included, and we would be paying monthly for them.  The first parking space was going to cost $100 a month and the second parking space was going to be an additional $150.  In addition to the $100 a month increase in our rent, we were now having to pay an extra $250 a month.  This was a huge percentage increase, but it was legal because it was in fees.

Of course, there wasn’t much we could do about this when it happened, but it would have been helpful to have been aware of the possibility.  We probably would have been better off renting somewhere that already had parking fees.  Even if those had increased, it likely wouldn’t have been a sudden $250 a month increase.

It’s also important to know the general policies in your apartment building before you sign on the line.  For example, some have required cable companies that you have to use because the wiring is already hooked up.  This isn’t a problem if they use one of the major companies, but when I was apartment hunting, the required cable company was definitely the lesser of those available in the area, and the service wasn’t known for being great.

What are the heating and cooling policies in the building?  I know that sounds crazy, but in a lot of buildings, they either have the heat turned on or the air conditioning.  That means that in the spring and the fall, you can have quite a few uncomfortable days before the switch is made.  I remember a few really hot evenings in the spring when the weather got warm but the apartment complex wasn’t quite ready to turn on the AC.  At least on the cool nights in early fall, we could just bundle up a bit more.

What are the rent payment policies?  Do they require a check or direct debit?  Where do you pay the rent?  What is the penalty if you are late?  While it’s important to always pay your rent on time, sometimes things happen, and it’s good to know what your grace period is.  If it’s a place that insists your rent is late if it’s not in by the first of every month, you might want to consider looking elsewhere.  I definitely lost track of time more than one and didn’t get my rent in until the second or third.  It’s not good personal finance keeping, I know, but it happens.  A couple of days for a grace period is definitely nice to have.

Finally, before you sign on the dotted line, be sure that you see the actual unit you’re renting, not just a unit available for showing.  You might find that it’s located near a noisy stairwell or that the windows look directly into another building.

 

Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards

credit card rewardsWith Thanksgiving behind us, we have officially entered the season of shopping.  I don’t know about you, but I always end up spending so much money in December, picking up last minute gifts for people, dinners and drinks out with friends, and of course on holiday travel.

I’ve talked about it here before, but I do most of my spending on credit cards.  I only use my debit card when I need to get cash back, and I very rarely have more than twenty dollars on me at any one time unless I’m going somewhere where I know I will need cash.

I use credit cards for three major reasons:

  1. It’s easy to keep track of my spending.
  2. It’s safe.
  3. Rewards!

Number one is pretty self-explanatory.  I don’t have to worry if I misplace a receipt.  All of my spending is recorded on my credit card statement and I can check it at anytime.

I like the safety that comes with credit cards.  If I end up with a fraudulent charge, I can contact the company and they take care of it for me and I’m not liable for the charge.  If I lose my card, no problem.  This is also true with debit cards, but I’m always worried about a fraudulent charge putting a hold on my money and not leaving me with the money I need to pay upcoming bills.  Of course, this means that I have to keep myself in check.  One big benefit to debit cards is that you can’t spend more than you have.

Finally, credit card rewards.  You mean that some company is going to give me something for simply spending money on things I was already going to buy?  Count me in!

Of course, this comes with a number of caveats.  Rewards cards have some of the highest interest rates among credit cards.  This makes sense, of course.  How else are they going to pay for the rewards?  I pay off my cards monthly, so I don’t have to worry about the interest rate.  I admit, I don’t even know what the interest rate is on any of my cards.  So if you’re thinking about a rewards card and plan to carry a balance, stop right now and look for a card with a good rate, not one with good rewards.

I personally have two rewards cards.  Both happen to be from Chase Visa, but there are lots of good companies out there.  These are just the cards I like.

One, my Amazon Visa is my everyday card.  It gives rewards in the form of points that can be spent at Amazon.com.  Of course, since they want me to spend at Amazon, I get triple points when I shop there and double points at a few other categories of places.  A point is about $1 for every $100 spent.  Maybe not the highest rate of all the cards, but it’s a reward I actively use, so it works for me.

My other card is my Disney Visa, which gives me points that can be used on a rewards card that acts like a Disney gift card and can be used at Disney parks, stores, and online.  I use this card primarily for bills, such as my internet bill and my cell phone bill.  I don’t rack up quite as many rewards, but as I try to make a Disney trip every year or so, it’s nice to have a bit of extra money to spend when I go.  I’m making a quick trip to Disney with some friends this winter and will have enough rewards to cover my meals while I’m there.  I’ll take it.

One big key to the cards I use is that I have chosen to not get any cards with an annual fee.  This is my choice after analyzing the rewards available.  I have a lot of friends who love their airline miles cards, even though they have an annual fee.  They did the math and they still come out way ahead.

So make sure you do your math.  Figure out if any of the many rewards cards are right for you and pick one with rewards you know you will be able to use.  And then be sure to pay off your cards every month.  No reward is worth paying a ton of interest.

Black Friday Shopping Tips

black friday tipsThe countdown to Christmas is on, and the countdown to Black Friday is rapidly approaching zero.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve been getting Black Friday sale ads in my inbox for the past few days.

But before you put on your shopping shoes at dawn on Friday, here are a few shopping tips.

Doorbusters

You know how stores advertise that they have a certain fabulous item marked down to an insanely low price for Black Friday only?  Well what they don’t tell you is that they don’t have a lot of that item.  Some stores may advertise a ridiculously cheap television and actually only have one in the store.  The goal for the store is to get you in the door.  You want to get that tv, and you’ll be disappointed when you don’t, but hey, since you’re at the store, you might as well see what else is out there.

Stores do have to have a least one of their doorbuster items in stock, however, so if you like camping out for sales, and can be first in line (and are a fast runner and can get to the item first and ward off anyone who tries to steal it for you), go for it.

False Sales

Stores like to advertise just how much an item is marked down.  “Now available at 25% off list price!”  But what they aren’t telling you is that on a normal day, they sell it at 20% below list price.  So yes, it’s on sale from the regular price, but you aren’t actually getting that great of a deal.  And sometimes the price would be better on a regular day at another store.  So if you’re headed out on Black Friday with some specific items on your shopping list, do some research now.  Find out what other stores have the price listed at now.

Watch Your Budget

In the excitement of Black Friday shopping, it’s so very easy to blow your budget.  Don’t let yourself get enticed into spending more money than you planned.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a good deal – a good deal doesn’t matter if you’re putting yourself into debt.  I recommend keeping a running list on your phone of what you have left to spend and use the calculator to keep yourself in check.  And when you’ve hit your limit, stop.  Don’t keep shopping.  Don’t browse just to see what’s out there.  Stop and go home.

Be Aware

Unfortunately, we live in a world where you have to be careful.  With so many people out shopping on Black Friday, thefts are bound to happen.  Make sure you aren’t setting your purse in a cart as you shop (you should never do this, regardless of time of year.  Don’t leave your car unlocked while you go to return your cart.  Be aware of your surroundings and if you feel uncomfortable at any point, leave.

Don’t Forget Small Business Saturday

After Black Friday, we have Small Business Saturday.  This is a day designed to promote all the awesome small businesses out there.  But don’t just patronize them on Saturday.  Sure, you can go to a big box store and pick up some awesome gifts, but there are some awesome small businesses out there with some great products to sell.  Maybe your town has a local bookstore or bakeshop.  If not, there are plenty of shops with online stores.  If nothing else, check out Etsy for some pretty cool gifts.

Have Fun

Above all, enjoy your holiday shopping, whether you spend Black Friday hunting down deals in the stores or online, or you avoid shopping all together and spend the day doing something fun.  The holiday season is underway and we should all try to enjoy it as much as we can.

What is Multilevel Marketing?

Recently, John Oliver did an amazing report on Multilevel Marketing companies, also known as MLMs or, oftentimes, pyramid schemes.

What is a Multilevel Marketing Company and why is it bad?  Well, Mr. Oliver does a great job of explaining, but in short:

A Multilevel Marketing Company is a business where your success depends on how many people you recruit and how many people they recruit.  And what shape does that make?  A pyramid.  And what’s the problem with these sorts of companies?  Well, first and foremost, they make promises they can’t keep.  If you recruit X number of people and help them recruit X number of people and so on and so forth, and you all sell X amount of product every month, you will make enough money to quit your job and buy a yacht!

That’s a lot of “if” statements, and let’s be honest, it’s really hard to make it happen.  Worse, a lot of times, these companies require you to sell a certain amount of product every month to keep your status.  If you don’t, you can lose out on your payments.  So to prevent that from happening, you end up buying the product yourself.

You aren’t going to get rich from an MLM.  Do some people?  Sure, otherwise they wouldn’t exist.  But the average person will not make millions.

Don’t get me wrong – there are some MLMs out there with decent products.  I may not love the way their businesses are structured, but if you like the product, just want to get a discount and sell enough to make a little pocket money and have no desire to recruit people?   Go for it.  But watch for suspicious MLMs.  There are a lot out there selling health and beauty products that make outlandish claims.  Don’t you think that if that vitamin drink really cured cancer that we would have heard about it before?  Perhaps all over the news?  Also, if that pill really blocked all the fat and carbs in your pizza, those fat and carbs would have to go somewhere.  Remember the Olestra craze? (If not, look it up – yuck.)

If you’re going to join an MLM, make sure that it’s one that doesn’t require you to buy a lot of products up front and then continue to stock product.  That’s where you can get into trouble.  (If you haven’t already, read my warnings about LuLaRoe.)  Many of them just have a start-up package and then you pay for your online shopping portal.  There, the costs are fixed and you know what you have to do.  And if you end up not selling like you thought you might, you’re not out as much money.

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook feed is currently filled with friends from various points in my life who are pushing their products.  And you can easily spot the scammy posts – those are the “friends” who are constantly pushing their items and talking about what a difference they have made in their lives.  I have even had old friends from high school find and add me on Facebook only to push their products.  Clearly, I’m not buying.  And I hate seeing more and more intelligent people getting sucked in.

If you love and want to sell jewelry or makeup or nail wraps or bags or any number of products that don’t make outlandish claims, then go for it.  But pushing your weight loss products and then convincing other friends to also sell weight loss products isn’t going to help you make money or lose weight. You will likely lose friends though.

In short – be wary of multilevel marketing.  Pyramid schemes have a bad name for a reason.  At the very least, know what you’re getting yourself into.