Landlords: How do you carry out a proper reference check?

If you own a flat share, a student let or any kind of rental home, proper reference checks on prospective tenants are essential to make sure they are who they say they are and that they have the funds to pay their rent.

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Start by getting all the necessary details about your tenant. Make sure you ask for permission to carry out background and credit checks, and get them to sign that they consent. You will also need documentation from them, with proof of identity, as well as their current and previous addresses. If you’re prospective tenant is not from the UK, you will need to ask for proof of their entitlement to live and work within the country.


Checking previous landlords’ references

Find out what previous landlords have to say. People can tell you information that documents and credit checks cannot! A five-minute chat now could save you a lot of future inconvenience. For example, if the tenant was always late paying their rent or if they left damage in their previous property. If you’re letting to someone on a low income, like a student, also consider checking their sponsor or guarantor’s references.

Checking previous addresses:

Any proper reference check should include current and previous proof of address. Ask your prospective tenant to provide a minimum of three bills or statements. Utility bills or bank statements are ideal in this situation. If you receive a recent statement from a current account, you will also be able to see whether a salary is being paid in and whether rent comes out, as an extra check.


Checking credit:

It’s quick and easy to do a credit check online. You can perform a basic search for around £15. This will include a score to give you an indication of the risk you may be taking on by letting to a particular person. A quality score is not based on the amount of debt somebody has, but more on how well they manage their finances with repayments.


Getting a new tenant can feel like a bit of a gamble. However, carrying out a thorough check at the beginning can help to ensure that your property is taken care of and that the rent is paid on time.


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