Tenant Assured enables landlords to ascertain whether a tenant will be able to pay their rent by analyzing data from their social media accounts.
It is now taken as standard that prospective employers will check an applicant’s social media profiles to find out if they are suitable, but now, controversially, a UK startup is enabling landlords to do the same. The Tenant Assured software enables landlords to ascertain whether a tenant will be able to pay their rent by analyzing data from their social media accounts.
As The Washington Post has reported, landlords conduct the process first by sending a request to the prospective tenant. Tenants are then required to grant access to all their social accounts — including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Next, Tenant Assured pulls data from them, including private messages and conversation threads and uses natural language processing to create a report on the tenant, detailing their ‘financial stress level’. The report includes a breakdown of their personality traits, notable life events, as well as a list of every time words such as ‘loan’, ‘broke’ and ‘poor’ appear. From the data, the tool’s algorithm creates a score, which predicts how capable the tenant will be of paying their rent on time.
The software has received criticism on social media and within the press for its creepiness and potential to encourage discriminatory practices. Tenant Assured is a product of startup Score Assured, which also has a tool for employers in the works, but is currently reconsidering how its software operates in response to its critics.
How could the tool be adapted to ensure fairness?