Q: Someone has suggested that when checking tenants, I should do searches on social media. Is this allowed or is it a breach of their data protection rights?
A: So long as you are just searching open records it is perfectly acceptable. If people want to keep their social media entries private they should activate the various privacy options that are available on social media platforms.
If people do not opt to protect their social media entries and keep them private, they cannot complain if a prospective landlord takes a look at them!
Carrying out social media searches are actually recommended and can be very useful. For example, if a prospective tenant claims that he does not have any pets, you may want to question him about recent pictures on his Facebook page with his two dogs!
However, you must make sure that the Facebook page in question (or whatever) is actually that of your prospective tenant – as many people have similar names.
Q: We have recently had an applicant to rent our property, a large house in rural Gloucestershire, who has offered to pay all the rent up front – in cash! A friend has told me to be careful about it but surely there is nothing to worry about? The applicant has proved trustworthy by paying all our rent in advance.