Tenant referencing

Ending up with a tenant who doesn’t pay their rent is every landlord’s worst nightmare. Following a few easy steps before you take on a tenant could minimise that risk and save you a lot of time, stress and money in the long run.  If you use a lettings agent, they will do all of this for you.

Meet your prospective tenant or chat with them by phone:

Ask them why they’re moving, how long they want to rent for, who will be living in the property and what they do for a living.  You’ll be able to build up a picture of who they are and whether they’re the kind of tenant you’re looking for.

Take up references:

You need to know your tenant will be able to pay the monthly rent and has a track record as a responsible tenant.  Always ask your tenant’s permission before taking up references.

Ask them for:

  • Proof of identify and current address –utility bills/bank statements will confirm their current address
  • A work reference – their employer will be able to verify how much they earn and their length/terms of employment. Make sure it’s recent and on proper letterhead
  • Landlord references – it’s a good idea to ask for references from at least one previous landlord

Run a credit check:

A credit check will help you assess whether the tenant is a good risk.  Several companies offer this service including Experian, Homelet.co.uk and Veri-check and a basic credit check can cost as little as £20.  If you don’t want to go the credit check route, seeing your tenant’s last 3-6 months’ bank statements will give you an idea of their ability to pay.

Right to rent check (obligatory):

You as a landlord have a legal obligation to carry out Right to Rent checks on all adults (aged 18+) who are planning to live in your property.  This is regardless of what you believe their nationality to be and must include everybody who will live in the property even if they aren’t named on a tenancy agreement.

To do this you’ll need to see your tenant’s relevant documentation in person and retain copies.  Relevant documentation could include a passport/ID card, driver’s licence, a letter from higher education establishment and/or a birth certificate.  The full list of eligible documents can be found on the Government’s website.

After your tenants have moved in:

Arrange to visit the property within a few weeks of the start of the tenancy to check your tenants are the people you’ve rented it to and that they are looking after the place.  Give your tenants notice that you intend to do this, don’t just drop in unannounced.