Whether you’ve stumbled upon the rental home of your dreams, or daydreaming about finding one soon, you’re going to have go through the necessary evil that calls itself: tenancy referencing. *distant blood curling scream*. Pop that cushion away, for this needn’t be a nightmare filled rigmarole (that’s one pasta dish from Pappagoni’s we wouldn’t recommend). Read on for our hammer horror-free guide to passing the dreaded tenancy checks, with a little help from our friends at Goodlord. Your haunted castle awaits…
So who exactly are you? There’s not really time for an existentialist breakdown, Mary, but you’re going to need to work it out in time to prove it to your new agent / landlord. Proof of ID will need to be viewed and photocopied. So dig out that dusty passport, European Economic Area (EEA) passport, Swiss passport or national identity card (either current or expired). If you’re currently breathing into a paper bag with none of the above to speak of, you can also use a letter of attestation and drivers license with a birth certificate. A big old list of valid forms of ID for tenancy referencing awaits on gov.uk, hidden amongst the right to rent guide.
…to be asked for proof of income or employment. You’ll need to show you can cover the rent by providing three months worth of your most recent payslips. Or provide proof from your employer of your current salary. Bear in mind that this is usually 2.5 x the annual rent amount. As a lot of us have turned to the dark world of self-employment since lockdown, you can use a tax return or a reference from your accountant instead.
If you will be dipping into your savings to pay said rent, you will still need to provide three months’ worth of bank statements to prove this. Remember to give your employer or accountant a quick toot to remind them that they’ll be quizzed by your potential new agent / landlord. Hopefully they won’t come up with any gems – “oh Janice? She’s in a real dry patch financially bless her. Always on the pay day loans. Anyway, nice chatting, good day.”
If the thought of gathering together bank statements and payslips and contacting your accountan sounds depressingly taxing, all is not lost. Goodlord (who we use for the referencing process at Davies and Davies) gives you the option to use open banking. What is open banking you scream inappropriately in the middle of our office? Well, it saves you the laborious task of providing all those tenancy referencing required documents. Instead, it gives you the option to connect to your bank/s, which gives Goodlord a neat and secure snapshot of your finances. This includes income and rent payments to prove your affordability and reliability as tenant. It’s a breeze!
Don’t underestimate the power of your old landlord/lady. It’s worth keeping these guys sweet as honey, if not just to obtain the prized reference when it’s time to move out. Let them know as soon as is awkwardly possible that you are indeed leaving their gorgeous abode. Make sure they’re prepared to be contacted by the new agency, as speed is key in obtaining that glowing tenant check. You know, the one that makes you sound like a silent, odourless ghost that they’ll barely hear from except to express gratitude for the inclusion of walls and curtains.
While this bit of the horror ride can feel particularly frightening, it isn’t. Particularly as it’s never a hard check that will affect your file. Just give written permission for a soft check of your credit history to occur, then sit back and await your score. We’d recommend running your own beforehand, just so there are no nasty surprises. Sometimes a small issue can actually be resolved in time. Such as an old phone bill that you’d forgotten about and can be paid off quickly. If you know you don’t have the highest of scores, there are still options which usually include the next step in our very (not) scary guide.
If you don’t pass the credit check, all is not lost. Most landlords accept a guarantor. That’s usually a friend or family member who’s willing to pay the rent or any damages should you (heaven to Betsy) not be able to. They’ll go through a very similar set of checks, so have a think of who you know with a good credit score then call them immediately to tell them the good news. They’ll no doubt be delighted, so best to let them know ASAP right? Whoever the lucky person is, they’ll usually need an income (salary or pension) that’s three times your annual rent to pass referencing, and be living in the UK. Federico from your 2017 all inclusive trip to Magaluf who said he’d do anything for you before diving backwards into the pool at 3am won’t count, sorry.
It’s money time. To secure that one bed love nest in your sights, you’ll likely be asked for a holding deposit which covers the cost of paperwork for all the checks whilst they’re being carried out. It’s usually the equivalent of one week’s rent and taken off the security deposit. The security deposit is a maximum of 5 weeks rent, or 6 weeks if your annual rent is more than £50,000. This is then held in a secure deposit protection scheme until it’s time for you to bid adieu to your rental abode.
Sometimes your agency can give you the option to pay a smaller one-off fee instead of the 5/6 weeks’ worth rent deposit. So it’s worth asking about this alternative. At this point you’ll also be asked to pay one month’s rent in advance, on top of the deposit. Quite an important but very-much-not frightening step of the tenancy referencing process, that.
Aaand breathe. Stick to our scare-free guide and you’ll be jiggling the keys into your swanky new pad in no time. Gather together your bank statements, soon-to-be-ex landlord and those most likely to have high credit scores (should you need them) and you’re ready to start the tenancy referencing process. If you have any concerns, however frightening, we’re not easily perturbed. Give us a call / email / drop into our office (bring biscuits!) and let’s assuage your worries over a cuppa. We’ll get you signed up and choosing house plants for the windowsills before you know.
While you’re here you may also want to check out our guide on how to move out with your deposit intact: click me.
email@example.com – Lettings Director (contact for lettings and new property management inquiries)
firstname.lastname@example.org – Sales Director (contact for sales, new homes and chartered surveying)
email@example.com – Head of Property Management (contact for existing managed landlords and block management)
020 7272 0986
Davies & Davies Estate Agents, 85 Stroud Green Road, London, N4 3EG
Article & images by Barefaced Studios
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020 7272 0986
85 Stroud Green Road
London, N4 3EG
Mon – Thurs: 0900 – 1815
Fri: 0900 – 1800
Sat: 1000 – 1600
Sun: Appointments by request