Moving home can be an exciting experience but is often listed as one of the more stressful events in life. Finding your perfect property to begin with can be a challenge, with many people competing for the same property. So, make your application as easy as possible and stand-out from the crowd by being prepared with any documentation your landlord or letting agent may need to see as part of the renting process. Checks often included as part of the referencing process, and include confirming your identity, right to rent, your employment status, credit score, and references from any previous landlords. We have put together this helpful guide on what documents you will need to rent a property in the UK, to take the stress out of moving home.
Right to Rent
The right to rent check is a legal requirement in the UK, under Section 32 of the Immigration Act 2014, meaning landlords are responsible for checking that all occupants of residential properties have the right to rent in this country. They do this by checking and keeping copies of acceptable documentation, that prove you can legally rent a property.
British & Irish Citizens
A valid passport is all you usually need to show for the Right to Rent check, however there is a list of other acceptable documents that can be found on the government website.
Rest of the World
The majority of the rest of the world will be provided with a share code to show their right to rent in the UK. Your landlord will need this code, along with your date of birth to access your right to rent online.
Similarly, to the right to rent check, you will need to provide at least 2 documents that confirm your name and current address. Your passport, driving license, a utility bill or bank statement are all documents that are acceptable. If you haven’t got access to any of those your landlord, or their referencing company will provide you with a comprehensive list of documents you can use.
The employment reference is used to determine your income, job stability and to a lesser extent, character. You will need to provide your employers name and contact details of the relevant person, and your letting agent or their referencing company will contact them directly to secure the reference. They will usually ask your employer to confirm your job title, salary, number of hours contracted to, and whether your employment is permanent or time limited. You will often also be asked to provide at least 3-months’ worth of payslips to prove you can afford to pay the rent.
If you are self-employed, it is slightly trickier as there isn’t usually an impartial third party that can be asked to provide a reference for you. If this is the case, then you will usually just have to provide your earnings over a 3-year period. This may be through your accountant, trading accounts, bank statements or tax returns.
A credit check is used to give insight into your credit history so landlords have an idea of how reliable you may be with future rental payments. This is assessed through your credit score which is calculated using numerous financial factors such a missed payments, unpaid loans, or defaults on accounts. You shouldn’t need to provide any documentation to begin with but will need to give permission for your landlord or their referencing company to run the check in the first place.
A good credit score will increase your chances of renting a property, however if your credit score isn’t as squeaky clean as you’d like it to be then this doesn’t automatically rule you out. We would advise you check your credit score before you apply to rent any property so you can be prepared beforehand if you have any historic credit blights. Its best to be upfront and honest so you can explain the situation to the landlord which shows you would be trustworthy as a tenant. There may be ways to manage a difficult credit score such as paying rent in advance or providing a guarantor.
A guarantor is someone, or an entity, who agrees to pay the rent on your behalf if you were unable to do so. It’s not only people with a bad credit score that may be asked to provide a guarantor, for example if you’ve never rented before, or your income doesn’t pass the affordability requirements, a guarantor may also be requested. Similar checks will be done on guarantors as to potential tenants. Guarantors will need to be able to provide evidence that they can afford to cover the rent, prove their identity, address, and income stability.
If you’ve lived in rented accommodation before then a previous landlord reference will be beneficial in boosting your application. This is to find out if you are a responsible tenant who will reliably pay the rent and look after the property well. You will be asked to provide details of your most recent landlord and they will asked to provide a reference on your tenancy including your history of consistently paying rent on time, how long you lived in the property, if you responsibly cared for the property, what condition you left it in once your tenancy came to an end, how easy you were to communicate with, and your character.
If you don’t have a good relationship with your previous landlord, be honest about it, and explain your side of the story. If you have an additional landlord you used to rent from that you can use to provide you with a positive reference give their details too, they can often be included as part of your reference.