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References & Checks You Need to Rent a Home

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When you embark on the journey of applying to rent a property, it’s a significant moment. Your application has the potential to shape your living situation for the next few years, or even longer. This realization should underscore the importance of getting your application right.

When considering your rental application, the landlord’s primary concern will be your references and checks. These factors, more than any others, can significantly influence the outcome of your application.

So, what exactly are these references and checks that you need for a rental application? We’ve outlined them all below, along with some additional insights to help you navigate this process.

What are the References & Checks You Need to Rent a Home?

When you apply to rent a home, you must provide specific references and checks.

Firstly, you will be asked for the contact details of previous landlords. This enables your new landlord to find out whether you were a good tenant—for example, whether you met all your payments on time, kept the house in good condition and any other details they would like to know.

If you are a first-time renter, it is widespread to be asked for a reference from your employer. This is because no previous landlords can be contacted, and your behaviour and character will need to be vouched for by someone else.

Your rental application will need to provide details of your income, and you will need to provide proof of this. Showing your payslips from the past three months will give information on your income.

It is expected to provide a character reference from someone you are not related to who has known you for over two years. This may be an employer, colleague, or someone who has known you well.

Needless to say, you will need to show proof of your identity, such as your passport and/or driver’s licence.

And lastly, if you are entitled to any benefits, you will need to show evidence of this, along with the details of what this enables you to claim.

Advice when preparing your References & Checks

If you list any person as a reference on your application, you should contact them to let them know that you are doing this. This means that they can expect a call from the landlord and paint you positively.

Assess your financial position

You may also want to look at your financial position and/or credit score before submitting any application to make sure that they are as strong as possible. For example, a general rule (although each landlord has its own preferences) is that your monthly gross salary should be at least 2.5 times the monthly rent, or your salary should be 30 times the monthly rent.

If you are not in this position, you may reconsider whether you can afford the house or find other ways to improve your application.

You can also improve your credit score so that the landlord is more likely to view you favourably. Staying within an agreed overdraft, meeting all your payments, and not maxing out any credit cards will all make a positive difference over a sustained period.

Are my savings taken into account when I apply for rent?

Remember, the landlord has the final say in who gets to rent their property. They can consider any factors they deem relevant and disregard details they’re not interested in. This flexibility in the process should reassure you that there’s room for negotiation and discussion.

In other words, it will depend on the specific landlord, your savings, and whether you can reassure them that it is not untouchable or earmarked for something else.

When you submit your application, you can provide details of your savings and proof that the money is there and possible for you to access. That said, a landlord is unlikely to offer you the tenancy simply based on this unless a reasonable income supports it.

Does my credit score impact my ability to rent?

Yes. While no minimum credit score requirement dictates whether or not you can rent, your landlord will undoubtedly be influenced by your track record of paying off debt. Therefore, the better your score is, the more likely you are to be viewed favourably by the landlord.

If your credit score is low, you can find another way to convince the landlord that you are a suitable candidate. Firstly, you could agree to pay more upfront or provide clear evidence of your salary. Also, a guarantor can be arranged, which can give the landlord peace of mind.

Can I rent with a guarantor?

Yes. In short, a guarantor is someone who agrees to pay your rent if you don’t. A close friend or family member usually agrees to fulfil this role for you. If you don’t pay your landlord what you owe them, they can ask your guarantor to pay instead.

You should carefully consider asking someone to be your guarantor. It is a major financial and legal decision that can seriously strain your relationship if you let them down. 

Can I rent a house if I am not a UK national?

When a landlord lets out a house, they are legally required to ensure their tenant has the right to be in the country. Therefore, as long as you can provide proof (documentation) that you are allowed to be here, you should not run into any problems, regardless of your nationality.

Keep in mind that if other people live with you, you will need to show proof that they are allowed to live in the UK, too. Even if you are the primary tenant and are the only one who will be financially contributing to the monthly payments, your landlord is still required to make sure that no laws are being broken under the roof.

Is a landlord allowed to back out of letting me the house?

Much like with a house sale, the landlord can pull out the deal any day until the contracts are signed and the deposit is made. 

If your landlord backs out of the deal after the contracts have been signed or made, you can sue them for damages. You should get a solicitor to support you with this, if possible, as you are usually more likely to win if you have legal representation.

One of the most common reasons a landlord may do this is because they have decided to sell the property instead. Perhaps the previous tenants have opted not to move out, or the owner no longer wants the hassle and financial commitment of being a landlord.

Whatever the reason, ensure that no laws have been broken and that you are fully aware of your rights.

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