Top tips for tenants regarding reference checks

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As a prospective tenant looking for the right property to rent and turn into your new home, you are bound to have a lot on your mind.  One of the things which may be causing you unnecessary stress is likely to be the reference check.

What is a reference check and why is it necessary?

From the landlord’s perspective, the reference check is useful because every property owned is an asset which brings in an income, which may very well be supporting a family.  Every landlord needs to be sure that the tenants they select are able to pay the rent on time each month and will be reliable enough to take good care of the property, as if it were their own.  Reference checks are an excellent way of helping to ensure that this will be the case.

But what about you, as a prospective tenant? There will always (expect in exceptional circumstances) be a credit check, and this will determine whether you can afford the rent.

What can I do to support this process?

You could do your own credit check on yourself in advance, which would flag up any potential problems.  Start by asking the following question; do you earn enough to be able to pay the rent that is being asked for the property you want?  The best way of knowing this is to ask yourself if you earn 2 ½ times the cost of the annual rent.  For instance, if the monthly rent is £1,000, the annual cost would be £12,000, so you would need to be earning £30,000 to cover that.  If you are a couple (or sharers) and will be combining your earnings to pay the rent, it is always good to let the letting agent/landlord know this in advance, so that the credit check can take account of this.

What else will be considered?

Other things that will be looked at will be your references (including those from previous landlords), your current employer and your ID.  There are some simple things to remember regarding these.  You may be asked to provide paperwork such as bank statements and passports, so make sure you have these to hand and can provide them upon request.  Also, try to ensure that your referee(s) are willing to take the time to answer any questions they may be asked.  You will be sent some forms to fill in – nobody likes form-filling very much but try to do this as promptly as you can.  The Right to Rent check, which is a legal requirement, will also be carried out as part of the credit check.  This will ascertain that you are legally allowed to rent a property in the UK, that you are over 18 and that your documents are genuine.

What if I have had problems in the past?

If you have had any problems in the past with bad landlords or feel you may have a poor credit history and you think this may be flagged up on your credit check, be up-front about it in advance.  Being honest about your past is a good way of trying to ensure that it doesn’t hinder your opportunities in the future.

Don’t worry

So, should you be worrying?  Probably not too much.  If you have prepared in the ways that I have outlined, have an income suitable for the rent being asked and are able to supply good references, it should be a walk in the park.  Nobody likes being checked, even if they have nothing to hide, but it is a relatively simple process that shouldn’t be too invasive.

Some landlords and letting agents use 3rd party agencies to do their reference checks.  At Carlean Lettings, although we outsource these checks to the National Landlords Association Tenant Check Organisation, we can monitor the whole process, chase it up and advise the tenant of anything that has the potential to be an issue and then, of course, we will discuss any issues with the potential tenant.

If you have rented before, you will know what to expect, but if you are about to rent for the first time, I hope that you are now a little less worried about the reference checks than you would have been when you started reading this blog, safe in the knowledge that with the right preparation, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be an entirely stress-free experience.

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