Around 18% of the population of the UK live in private rented accommodation. Currently, demand outstrips supply in the private rental market, and this means that landlords can often be picky about who they choose to rent from. From a prospective tenant’s point of view, this means you have to make sure you are seen as a trustworthy person who will pay their rent and look after the property. Whether you are dealing directly with the landlord, or organising your tenancy through an agency, there will be some standard checks which you can expect to encounter.
Most landlords will want some sort of guarantee that you will pay your rent. Looking at your financial situation lets landlords assess whether you have the means to pay rent, and that your credit history suggests you have a positive track record. Landlords will use a credit agency to get a report on your financial status but will need approval from the tenant to do this. There is a charge for running a credit check, but most landlords will meet the cost rather than risk dealing with unpaid rent. If you are signed up with a credit referencing app, it may be possible to show this rating to the landlord rather than going through a full check.
References and Guarantees
Landlords will also want to get references from people who you have rented from in the past, or from your employers. This is a good way of finding out whether you’ve been a decent tenant in previous homes, and whether your salary is enough to cover the rent. In some cases, the landlord will ask the tenant to provide details of a guarantor – someone who will cover the rent if they cannot. This is especially common with students or low earners.
Guarantors are usually close family members but can also be friends or employers. Credit checks are usually required on the guarantor too in order to make sure that they can cover their own housing costs as well as the rent they have guaranteed. It is essential to get agreement from your guarantor, and that the guarantor understands fully what they are getting themselves into.
Right to Rent and Criminal Record Checks
Right to Rent is a government requirement that all landlords check that their tenants are in the UK legally. This is usually confirmed by checking the tenant’s passport and nationality.
Criminal record checks are not a legal requirement to rent property in the UK. Some insurance companies which specialise in underwriting rented property might ask the landlord to confirm that nobody in the property has a criminal record though. Landlords can comply with this requirement by asking tenants to arrange a basic disclosure check through the DBS in England and Wales and similar bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Landlords cannot apply for this check on a tenant’s behalf; the tenant will have to get their own DBS check. A basic DBS check will only show your current and unspent convictions and will disregard more distant offences.