The iD Buddy System: How it Affects the Rental Process

As a landlord, verifying the identity of prospective tenants without a UK driving licence can be a complicated and time-consuming task. As a result, If you have 2 similarly qualified applicants and one has a driving licence and one who doesn’t, pick the one that does as it is so much easier.

However, if you are considering renting to a candidate who has never had a UK Full or Provisional driving licence, then you have to go through the more painful and annoying means of identifying them

We apologise for the inconvenience, as the process can be frustrating and sometimes leads to prospective tenants abandoning the application.” In this case, the potential tenant will need a family member or friend who possesses a UK driving licence to join RenterBall and become their iD Buddy.

An iD Buddy’s role is to represent the tenant on RenterBall. The tenant and iD Buddy both need a UK National Insurance (NI) number. RenterBall can only confirm that the NI number provided by the tenant has not been used before on the platform and that it follows the NI number format. Unfortunately, we cannot verify an NI number without a driving licence number.

As a landlord, you must take the following factors into account:

  1. Is the tenant being dishonest and actually possessing a driving licence?
  2. Is the National Insurance (NI) number they are claiming genuine?

As a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring the tenant’s NI number is genuine and considering whether the tenant may already have a driving licence. Be aware that tenants with negative feedback might try to deceive landlords by claiming they do not have a driving licence and using a friend as their iD Buddy.

As a landlord, to verify the authenticity of an NI number, you can ask the tenant to provide documents such as a benefits letter, HMRC return, or a payslip. However, these documents can be easily falsified. A more reliable method is to request that the tenant logs into their HMRC Tax account or Universal Credit account using their smartphone, where their NI number should be displayed. Then, ask the tenant to show you the screen, and make note of the following:

  1. The Name
  2. The NI number
  3. The Date of Birth

Next, request to see a government-issued photographic ID and confirm that the name and date of birth on the ID match those displayed on their government account.

If an applicant doesn’t have access to those specific accounts, you’ll need to take a considerable risk as a landlord.

In this case, you should request one of the following documents where their name and NI number should be displayed:

  1. A benefit letter
  2. An HMRC return
  3. A payslip

However, be cautious, as there are numerous websites online that can produce fake versions of these documents for a small fee, often less than £20, and then send them to your tenant. As a result, you must exercise caution and thoroughly examine the provided documents to minimise the risk.

So, what is the role of an “iD Buddy” and what do they actually do?

An iD Buddy is a verified user on RenterBall who vouches for a non-verified user.

When you want to leave feedback on a non-driving licence tenant (non-verified), you’ll need to send them an online RenterBall agreement to sign.

Both the non-verified tenant and their iD Buddy are required to sign the agreement.

To do this, both parties must be members of the same tenant page. As a landlord, you simply send the RenterBall agreement to the tenant page, and all members of that page must sign the agreement for it to become active.

This approach ensures that you have at least one additional person, the “iD Buddy”, on whom you can leave feedback. So, if a tenant has deceitfully provided you with a fake NI number, they will need a different iD Buddy next time they try to rent, as you would have left negative feedback on the current one.

Although you won’t be able to sue the iD Buddy like a guarantor for any debt incurred during the tenancy, you can still have the satisfaction of leaving feedback on them, holding someone else accountable besides the actual tenant.

Technically speaking, you are leaving feedback on the tenant page, and a copy of that feedback is placed on every member of that tenant page.

However, if you discover that the tenant’s NI number is different from the one they provided at the start of the tenancy, you should definitely contact RenterBall support. They can put you in touch with the appropriate authorities, as this would be considered a fraudulent act. In such a case, the iD Buddy would be deemed to be aiding and abetting, as their responsibility is to ensure their friend or family member is being honest and providing their accurate details.

In conclusion:

  1. Prioritise applicants with driving licences.
  2. Exercise caution when verifying NI numbers and dates of birth for unverified users.

A note to tenants:

If you wish to be taken seriously and want to rent from a RenterBall landlord, obtaining a driving licence is highly recommended. Even if you have no intention of driving, applying for a provisional licence makes life significantly easier by providing a form of photographic ID.

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