References you Need to Rent

Latest update: 08 June, 2022

Before renting a new home, you will need to provide your new landlord or letting agent with references that show you can afford the property and that you will be a trustworthy tenant to look after the property. This handy guide explains the references you need to rent a home and why tenant referencing is essential.

What Documents do you need?

Your landlord or letting agents will need to make several checks which will include:

  • Character reference from your previous landlord and current employer

  • Documentation to show proof of income, usually recent payslips and three months of bank statements

  • A credit check with a credit reference agency.

  • Photo ID, such as a passport or driving licence

  • Proof of residency or immigration status proving your ‘Right to Rent in the UK

A third party will often undertake the referencing process on behalf of the letting agents or landlord; however, this will only occur with your written permission.

Character References

A landlord or letting agency will want peace of mind that their prospective tenant is reliable, has a secure source of income and has a history of making rent payments on time. They will usually ask to speak to your employer to corroborate your salary and employment details. In addition, your previous landlords will need to confirm you were a responsible tenant, kept their rental property clean during your tenancy and paid rent promptly.

If you are in a probationary period at work or have had problems with a previous landlord, it is best to mention this upfront before the checks occur. Failure to do so could negatively impact your application and increase the risk of failing the reference checks. However, good references will boost your chances significantly.

Proof of Income

You will be required to submit proof of income to your letting agent or potential landlord to reassure them that you will be able to afford the rent and will be a reliable tenant. For example, recent payslips and at least three months of bank statements must show that your income is secure and regular. These documents will validate that you can afford the monthly payments set out in the tenancy agreement.

Prospective tenants that are self-employed may have to supply other documents to prove that their earnings are at a stable and secure level and will be able to pay the required rent. If you plan to live with other adults, your salaries will be combined when proving your ability to pay the monthly rent.

Credit Check

Potential tenants will undergo credit checks to show that their credit history is healthy. To pass, tenants will need a good credit score to prove financial responsibility and reassure their landlords that they can meet their rent payments. A poor credit score, a history of missed payments and county court judgements will count against a potential tenant. However, having a poor credit score does not necessarily mean you will be unable to rent. 

Most landlords will consider tenants with a poor credit score if they can provide a guarantor. Usually, one of their family members or someone living in the UK, should legal action ever be required.

Photo ID & Proof of Residency

To rent property in the UK, you will need to provide original documents proving your identity, current address, residential status and that you have the Right to Rent in the UK. 

For example, if you are a UK national, a passport or driving licence will need to be seen by your agent or landlord, whilst non-UK nationals can supply a National Identity card. Landlords will need to seek Home Office confirmation of the eligibility for tenancy of all potential renters.

Plan Ahead

It is best to plan to give yourself the best chance of passing the checks and securing your perfect property. Get relevant information and paperwork ready in advance, inform your current landlord and employer that you will provide agencies with their contact details for references as part of the rent check, and ask other tenants to organise their paperwork.

Be Honest

Be upfront about any possible issues that might show in any checks; this will count in your favour. If you think there might be a risk that you might fail a reference, then line up your guarantor in advance. Offering to pay more rent or a larger deposit in advance is one way to signal your intention to your landlord that you will be a good tenant if you have a poor credit score. Following these steps will help you to secure your dream property and enjoy a tenancy to remember.

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