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Landlord reference checks to be aware of before you rent

4 minutes

Finding that perfect new flat to live in is an exciting time.

Whether you’re moving in with your other half for the first time, relocating to a new city to pursue your dream career, or simply looking to upgrade your home, renting somewhere new is a big moment in your life. And it’s not all plain sailing either.

Before you start unpacking your boxes and putting your own spin on your new pad, there’s a whole list of things to get sorted. That includes proving your right to rent and passing some important landlord reference checks. These are often the final hurdles to securing that ideal rental space, so they’re vital when it comes to securing a property. 


In this guide, we look at some of the landlord reference checks typically carried out when you’re renting a new house or flat, as well as your rights as a tenant, and what you can do to make the process as seamless as possible.

What to do if you don’t have documents

If you can’t provide the required documents for your landlord’s right to rent checks, you might not be able to rent the property. But don’t hit the panic button just yet - there are two more options available.

  • If the Home Office has your documents, you can ask your landlord to check with them.
  • You can provide two alternative documents, such as a UK birth certificate and driving licence.

Other landlord reference checks

As well as the legally required right to rent checks, most landlords will also want to make sure any tenants they’re taking on are the best possible candidates. 

That’s why many of them will carry out more landlord reference checks to verify you have a good history of renting, can afford to live at the property and have the means to keep up with rental payments throughout your tenancy. 

These landlord reference checks may include: 

  • Checks for criminal records
  • Credit checks
  • References from previous landlords
  • Income and affordability checks
  • Proof of employment
  • Employer references


Depending on the outcome, or the ability to provide the information, your application may be declined.

 

Do I need a guarantor?

Not all tenants require a guarantor to rent a property. For the most part, guarantors aren’t needed if your credit check and employment references clear, and you earn enough to comfortably cover the rent. But if there are any concerns about your ability to pay rent following landlord reference checks, they may ask you to provide a guarantor.

Landlords generally require you to be earning at least two and a half times the monthly rent . This can be a big ask, particularly if you’re renting on your own. But even if you don’t earn enough, it doesn’t mean you can’t rent the property. Landlords will often accept a guarantor, who agrees to be responsible for your rent in the event you can’t pay.

Can a landlord run a credit check?

Landlords can run credit checks, but not without your permission. It’s not uncommon either, as a credit check helps them determine your history of paying on time and how likely it is you might default on rent payments. If your landlord reference and credit checks show you have an unfavourable history, the landlord may opt not to proceed with your application. 

Credit checks are used by landlords to: 

  • Look at your credit history
  • Show any county court judgements (CCJs)
  • Highlight a history of bankruptcy
  • Make sure you’re who you say you are

It’s important to note that credit checks can show up on your credit report for a limited time, so making multiple tenancy applications in a short space of time could have a negative impact on your score, as your credit history will be checked each time.

FAQs

What happens if you fail a landlord reference check?

In most cases, if you fail a landlord reference check, there’s a risk your application to rent the property will be declined. However, if you do fail any checks, there are options, such as providing a guarantor. 

Many reference checks are at the landlord’s discretion too, so it may not automatically mean rejection. It’s always worth talking to the landlord about your options. 

Do I need another landlord reference when I renew my tenancy?

In the majority of cases, you won’t need to go through another round of landlord reference checks when renewing an existing tenancy, unless your personal circumstances have changed since you signed the original tenancy agreement, or if you’ve had to renew your right to rent in the UK.

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