Trust and Trustworthiness with HomeHak
It is an unfortunate aspect of the renting process that there is often distrust among key stakeholders tenants, landlords and letting agents. Most people behave honestly, however, they are subjected to the suspicions and checks intended to identify and root out the bad actors. This is because the consequences of being duped can be very serious for tenants who are defrauded or forced to live in poor housing or for landlords and letting agents who don't get their rent or whose property is damaged at the hands of bad tenants.
It is a core goal of HomeHak to help stakeholders in the home-renting sector to establish and improve their trustworthiness. Members of HomeHak can voluntarily verify their ID and promote an "ID Verified" or an "Address Verified" badge on their Tenant CV or Landlord/Agent profile. Members can also collect and show references from people willing to vouch for them, upfront on their profiles, whilst protecting the contact details of their reference providers. The platform provides multi-factor authentication, secure inbox messaging, safe document storage, watermarking of sensitive documents and time-limiting access to documents.
HomeHak is a people-focused platform rather than a property platform. For this reason, it is built with privacy designed into it. This means the renting process can take place more efficiently and effectively because trust and trustworthiness are seamlessly built into the process.
Methods to improve trustworthiness provided on HomeHak
- Tenants, Landlords and Letting Agents can verify their Identity with "ID Verification" provided by Stripe. The process takes less than 5 minutes and it is available to all users of HomeHak.
- Tenants benefit from knowing the landlord or letting agent is at least who they say they are on their passport or driving license. This is to deter "Fake Landlords" and "Fake Agents".
- Great landlords, homeowners and letting agents can offer extra peace of mind to home-seekers by displaying the "ID Verified" badge on their HomeHak profile.
- Landlords, agents or homeowners know the person they are vetting is the same person shown on references and rent/employment history.
- Homeowners can be sure of the identity the name of the person they are inviting to view their home.
- Tenants can verify their address with "Address Verification". This product is also provided by Stripe. This is a new product offered by Stripe, and although it is relatively mature it is still a beta product being tested by HomeHak. The benefits of Address Verification;
- tenants can prove they have a reliable renting history by showing an "Address Verified" badge on their Tenant CV.
- landlords and agents can know instantly that an applicant has a solid renting history.
Reference statements provided upfront
References are evidence provided by other people about their experience dealing with a person. In modern society, reviews and references are amongst the most important criteria used to determine trustworthiness. HomeHak offers users the opportunity to collate references from people willing to support their reputation and then to promote the reference statements as part of a tenant CV or profile. What are the benefits of collecting references on HomeHak?
- All members can use HomeHak to efficiently collect references by sending a request to their contact from inside HomeHak. The receiver simply clicks on a web link that takes them to the inside of HomeHak where they can insert their reference directly onto the tenant CV or landlord/agent profile.
- The process negates the necessity for printing references on headed notepaper, emailing or posting them in the mail.
- The reference statement can be shown publicly on the tenant CV or landlord/agent profile to help boost a members reputation.
- The contact details of the reference provider should remain hidden and protected until somebody needs to verify the reference and wishes to call or email the reference provider. This usually happens at the point a property is being offered to a potential tenant.
- The reference details can remain on the tenant cv or profile and be used again in the future, so long as the reference provider agrees.
- A HomeHak thought: If references are so important to establishing trustworthiness during the renting process, then why not promote them upfront, instead of providing them as an after-thought when the exercise is almost finished. If you are fortunate to have good references, use them to help your efforts.
Every user of HomeHak must perform Multi-factor authentication when they sign up to use the service. This requires users to verify their email and phone number as part of the registration process.
Members of HomeHak can use the HomeHak messaging service to communicate, arrange viewings and share documents. This helps users avoid sharing their email or mobile phone number until they are comfortable communicating with the person they are dealing with.
HomeHak Document Centre
Members of HomeHak can store documents, photos and videos connected with their renting experience on HomeHak.
Often tenant applicants are expected to share sensitive documents like Passports, Drivers licenses, bank statements, wage slips, reference letters, etc. Some people are concerned these documents could be compromised and used by identity thieves.
HomeHak offers an extra layer of protection by inserting a watermark on top of any document that is stored on the platform. When a document is shared, it is still legible so that a landlord or agent can decipher the information they need to make their decision. However, it will not be easily reused illegally by anyone criminal.
Time-limited sharing of documents
When a tenant applicant shares a sensitive document during the renting process there is often the concern that they have lost control of that document. It could be copied, shared, lost or misused.
When a member of HomeHak shares a document they have the opportunity to restrict the receiver to one specified person defined by their email and who is a registered member of HomeHak. In addition, the owner of the document can impose a time limit on access to the document. After this period, it will not be possible for anybody to view the document without the permission of the tenant.
Landlords and letting agents who are aware of their responsibilities under the GDPR recognise the benefits of restrictions like this. They need to see such documents to support their decision making, however, often they do not need to store such personal information on the files and subject themselves to heightened data protection responsibilities.
Note: HomeHak provides tools on the platform that are intended to improve trustworthiness amongst stakeholders in the renting process. HomeHak does not screen or recommend any individual member or user of HomeHak. It is your responsibility to interview the persons you deal with on the platform and to determine if you wish to deal with them. It is also your responsibility to contact reference providers and verify references that you want to rely on.
If we at HomeHak become aware of any inappropriate or dishonest behaviour by any member of HomeHak we will investigate it and take steps to block that account. This is in the interests of our community of trustworthy users. If you have evidence of such behaviour don't hesitate to Submit a request and report it to us.