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How a private landlord or letting agent will check tenants

Published 20 February 2016 by

There’s a lot that goes into securing a rented property. You first have to find a space that is not only appropriate for your lifestyle but within your budget as well, and you’ll have to provide references and documents to your landlord before you’ve even been accepted.

If it’s your first time moving into a rented property, we’re going to take you through what a private landlord or letting agent could ask of you when applying.


A letting agent or landlord will usually ask for a number of documents before they rent out a property to you. These are to confirm your identity, reliability as a tenant and ability to pay regular rent. Here’s a few you could be asked for:

• Bank details

• Recent bank statements

• Letter from your employer confirming your employment

• Accounts, if you’re self employed

• Pay slips

• Employment contract

• Proof of benefits

You may be asked to provide references from an employer or previous landlord as well. If you don’t have these as a first-time renter, a reference from your parent or guardian should be acceptable.

From 1 February 2016, all landlords in England now have to check that all new tenants have a right to rent in the UK. This means that they’ll now have to start checking passports and visas. If you don’t have a UK passport, you’ll have to show at least two of the following documents:

• Birth certificate

• UK Driving license

• Criminal record check

• Benefits paperwork

• Evidence of service in the armed forces

• Letter from HM Prison Service

• Letter from private rented sector access scheme

• Letter from National Offender Management Service

• Letter from UK passport holder in a certain profession

• Letter from your employer

• Letter from college or university

• Letter from the police (if passport stolen)

• Letter from government department or local authority

Just bear in mind that showing your landlord evidence that you’ve been to prison may deter them from renting to you.

Rent guarantors

If you’re a student, young person or unable to prove that you have a regular source of income, you may be asked to provide a guarantor. A guarantor is someone that agrees to sign a document stating that they’ll pay the rent if you are unable to. It’s common for a guarantor to be a parent or guardian.

Signing up to be a guarantor is legally binding, so they should check exactly what it is they are responsible to cover. In most cases, your guarantor will need to be a UK resident and own their property.

Credit checks

A letting agent or landlord may ask to run a credit check on you when you apply to rent a property through them. This is purely to get a sense of whether you’ve had a good track record with paying your bills in the past. They will need to get written permission from you to conduct this.

Before you apply for a rented property, it may be wise to check your own credit report to know exactly what you’re up against and give you a chance to correct anything that’s wrong on there. You can do this through one of the three credit reference agencies, Experian, Equifax or CallCredit. Failing your credit check could see you risk losing any fees that you’ve paid as well – so it’s worth doing.

If you have had a bad credit history in the past, you may find that you have to provide a larger deposit or find someone to act as your guarantor to secure the property.