What Does Tenant Referencing Involve?

The tenant referencing process is fairly easy to complete, as long as you understand how it works, and any potential obstacles that could prevent you from passing. In this quick guide to tenant referencing, we explain why it’s so important, what you may be asked to provide and how to make sure you pass - getting you one step closer to renting the property you want.
Jack Godby

What is tenant referencing?

Tenant referencing is the process a landlord or letting agent takes to find out and verify information about you, a prospective tenant. It confirms that this information (such as how much you earn) is correct, and it helps landlords and agents decide whether you’re the right fit for your chosen property.

Will I be charged?

No. You shouldn’t be charged for tenant referencing. If a landlord tries to charge you for any part of the referencing process, they’re breaking the law - don’t feel pressured to pay any fees you aren’t comfortable with.

A full list of permitted and banned tenancy fees can be found here.

Why is it required?

By passing the relevant checks, your landlord can be confident that you will: 

  • Have a right to rent in the UK
  • Earn enough to cover the cost of rent, and that you’ll pay it on time
  • Keep the property in good condition throughout the tenancy
  • Not cause trouble with any neighbours you may have

Overall, tenant referencing gives your landlord or letting agent peace of mind that they’ve picked the right tenant. 

What does the tenant referencing process involve?

Tenant referencing may sound intimidating at first, but the process is actually very straight forward. Often, it can be completed entirely online via a form or application, making it easy to gather and submit all the information your landlord needs. At Ocasa, our referencing process can be completed in just 48 hours - meaning you aren’t left waiting. 

That being said, the reference process itself will vary from different landlords and agents. But generally, what you’ll need to provide is standard across the board.

Tenant referencing: what do they check?

There are several types of referencing that you might be asked to provide in order to prove whether you are suitable to rent your chosen property. These will vary depending on the kind of tenant you are - for example, if you’re a student, full-time employee, or self employed - but the checks your landlord will typically need to complete are:

Right to rent check

Legally, your landlord must check that you have a right to rent in the UK, which essentially means verifying that you’re either a British citizen, or you’ve been granted legal right to live in the country. This check will involve providing proof of identity (such as your passport), previous address and other documents that prove your right to rent in the UK. 

A full list of what these may include can be found here

Proof of employment or income

In order to make sure you’re able to afford and pay rent on time, your landlord will need to contact your employer to confirm your income if you’re a full time employee. 

Usually, landlords will require that your income is 30x the monthly rental rate - for example, if your rent is £600 per month, you’ll need to earn at least £18,000. This helps guarantee that you’ll be able to pay the full cost of rent each month. This check is easy to complete, and doesn’t require much work from your employer.

Credit check

Don’t panic! This isn’t an in-depth look at your finances and credit score, it is simply to prove you don’t have any “adverse credit” - which means evidence that you have a poor record of paying bills on time. It won’t affect you if you’ve never had credit before.

Previous landlord reference

If you’ve rented a property before, your previous landlord will be contacted to provide a reference on how you behaved as a tenant. This will include whether you paid rent on time, if you treated the property well and any other information that could influence your new landlord’s decision.

If you haven’t rented before - don’t worry, your landlord may just ask for proof of income, or they may require you to provide a guarantor.

What is a guarantor for rent?

A guarantor isn’t a legal requirement, but you will need a guarantor in some instances; for example if you’re a student or your landlord asks you to provide one. 

A guarantor is someone that you choose to take responsibility for your obligations as a tenant, such as paying rent, if you’re not able to fulfil them for any reason. Because of this affordability and credit checks may also need to be carried out on your guarantor. 

They’ll often get a copy of your tenancy agreement, and will need to sign a few bits of paperwork to confirm they’re happy to be your guarantor. 

If you pass the required reference checks, you should be given the go-ahead to rent your chosen property - providing you have paid your deposit

What happens if I fail tenant referencing?

There are a number of reasons why a tenant might fail a part of the referencing process - however, some are less damaging than others. For example, if you require a guarantor, it shouldn’t harm you renting a property if they are suitable. However, if you have a poor credit history and a bad reference from your previous landlord, you’re more likely to be refused rental. 

Ultimately, it’s your landlord’s decision whether or not you are a suitable tenant, but passing each of the reference checks is the best way to ensure you’re able to rent your chosen property. 

tenant referencing

How can I make sure I pass tenant referencing?

While there’s no step-by-step guide to ensuring you pass each reference, there are some tips you can use to make sure you’re better placed for success. 

Be honest

It may sound obvious, but it’s extremely important to be honest about all information you’re required to provide - such as how much you earn, and even any previous bad experiences with landlords. It’s always best to be upfront, as you won’t get stung further down the line.

Make sure you have all the documents you need

If you know you want to rent a property, it doesn’t hurt to ensure you have the documents you’ll need before you’ve chosen a property. This means making sure you have your passport, bank statements or visa where relevant - doing this will significantly speed up the referencing process.

Give your referees, or guarantors a heads-up

While referencing can be completed online very easily, it’s always a good idea to tell your referees (such as your employer) or guarantor that they can expect your landlord to get in touch with them. This way, you don’t delay any checks.

Have your finances in order

Above all else, to ensure you’re able to pass referencing and rent the property you want, you need to have your finances completely in order - including your deposit for rent. This will help you understand what you’re able to afford, and ensures that you don’t land yourself in financial trouble in the first month of your tenancy.

Tenant referencing is just one of the things you’ll need to consider before renting and moving into your chosen property. While the process itself isn’t difficult, it helps to be confident that you’re able to pass the necessary checks - and you can do this by figuring out how ready you are to both move out, and rent your own property. 

Find out everything you need to know about renting for the first time in our free guide, where we explain everything you need to be aware of before, during and after the rental application process - get your free copy here.

referencing process