References for renting

🕑 6 minute read

References for renting explained

When renting a home, you might have to provide references and pass certain checks before you’re approved to rent the property.

There are three types of checks done when you apply to rent a property:

  • Right to rent.
    This check looks to see if you can legally rent a property in the UK.  
  • References for renting.
    You may need to provide a reference from a previous or current landlord, or your employer.
  • Credit checks.
    Analysis of your credit history to make sure you have a good borrowing history and are in a sound financial situation.


Right to rent

The landlord or letting agent will require you to prove you have the legal right to rent in the UK. You will also need to provide documentation for any other adults living at the property with you.

This is usually a passport, UK driving licence or your immigration documents. You’ll need a current version of these documents, as an expired passport, for example, won’t be accepted.

If you are waiting for an immigration decision from the Home Office and have no documents to prove your right to rent, let your potential landlord know. They can contact the Home Office to get confirmation of your application.

If you have applied for settled or pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme, the Home Office will send a ‘share code’ or ‘certificate of application’. You can use this to prove you have the right to rent to a landlord or letting agent.


Providing references for renting

You may be asked to provide a reference to your landlord or letting agent.

You’ll need to provide contact details of previous or current landlords. This is usually to check there were no issues with paying rent in your previous home.

For first-time renters, you will most likely be asked to provide a reference from your employer. This should be your manager or HR representative, as they’ll be able to confirm salary and employment status.

You may also have to provide documentation, like a p60 or three months of payslips. The documents you’ll need will depend on the landlord or letting agent.

You may also be asked to provide a character reference. This should be from someone who has known you for at least two years and is not a relative.

Don’t forget to let all your references know that you want to use them as a reference and get permission to share their contact details.


Credit checks

A credit check is a look at your credit history and history of borrowing. It helps landlords and letting agents see how you handle financial responsibility.

A credit check will be carried out by a Credit Reference Agency. The cost of a credit check may be included with the fees you pay when arranging to rent a property.

For example, if you have defaulted on payments in the past, or failed to pay bills on time, it might suggest you aren’t in a stable financial situation.

It is best to be honest, and upfront with the landlord before you get credit checked. If you know that you have a poor history, but your situation has now improved, it’s best to let them know. If your credit score is low, you might be asked to provide a guarantor.


How long does a credit check take?

A credit check should take no more than a week. Most landlords or letting agents want them to be completed quickly to avoid any complications. If you have a poor, little or no credit history, this can take a little longer and may involve extra steps.


Tips for passing renting referencing checks

Here are some tips and advice on passing your landlord’s checks and getting in your new home as quickly as possible:


Have paperwork ready

Landlords and letting agents will need to see specific documentation before proceeding with your application. These may include:

  • A completed application form for the property.
  • Passport or other residence documents.
  • Proof of employment/accountant’s details if self-employed.
  • Proof of any benefits entitlement.
  • Bank statements from the last three months.
  • Two proofs of address from your current residence.

You should provide these promptly to get approved more quickly.  


Prepare your references

It’s a good idea to decide who your references will be before you apply and to let them know you’ll be passing on their details. It is also worth finding a guarantor, just in case.


Be honest

Letting agents and landlords will always appreciate honesty. If you know your credit score isn’t great, but you can afford the property due to a change in circumstances, let them know. You may need to provide more evidence to back this up, such as recent payslips, so have these ready.


Have your deposit ready

Make sure you have the full amount of deposit in your account, so you can transfer this as soon as you are accepted.

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