As the UK's largest tenant referencing company with over 30 years of experience, we know how exciting (and stressful) it can be when you're waiting to find out if you can rent a property.
We aim to make the process as quick as we can to help get you moving as soon as possible. So, we've put together a few top tips to shed some light on the tenant referencing process and how you could help speed things up.
Top tip: If we're referencing you, you can track the progress of your application online using the Tenant Application Tracker. You can also send in supporting documents for your application online using the Tracker.
Why do I need to be referenced?
Your future home often represents a significant investment for a landlord or might have a high sentimental value to them. A tenant reference tells the landlord a little more about you as the person who will rent their property, and it reassures them that you're suitable for the tenancy and can afford the monthly rental payments. Typically, the checks include a credit search, bank account validation, confirmation of employment, and a reference from your previous landlord.
As a tenant, what can I do?
By following these steps, you can help to speed up the process on your end and be one step closer to moving into your new home.
Work out what you can afford
Before you fall in love with a property, figure out what you can afford to pay. You'll usually need a gross income of around two and a half times the annual rent. So, for example, if you're looking at renting a property that costs £800 per month, it's likely you'll need a household income of at least £24,000 (£800 x 12 months x 2.5 = £24,000).
If you think you're unlikely to pass referencing based on your affordability, you may be able to ask for a guarantor to support you. A guarantor is usually a parent or guardian who will agree to take on the responsibility for the rent of the property – in other words, if you don't pay your rent or for any damages to the property (over the deposit amount), it is your guarantor's responsibility to foot the bill.
It's also worth noting that some properties come with bills included and others don't – in which case you'll need to consider regular payments such as gas, electricity, water, council tax and insurance. Your letting agent or landlord should be able to tell you what council tax banding the property is under, but you can always check council tax valuations online.
Keep your guarantor updated
If you need a guarantor, we'll need to reference them in the same way, which means they'll have to undergo a credit check and an employer reference. Telling your guarantor about the checks in advance can help make sure the process runs smoothly.
Be honest about your circumstances
Poor credit history doesn't automatically mean you'll be declined, but failing to disclose this information upfront may look bad on you.
With HomeLet, our references include a credit search, so we'll check things like:
- Any adverse credit history, such as bankruptcy, County Court Judgments (CCJs) and court decrees
- Whether you have any previous names and addresses which you may not have disclosed
- Whether there's any undisclosed credit history linked to your current and most recent homes
- Whether bank account details you provide are for a genuine bank account
Check your free credit report
Your credit report and score will be checked as part of your tenant application. It's a good idea to sign up for your free credit report with TotallyMoney, so you can see what your agent sees.
You'll see up to six years of your credit history, find out why your credit score is what it is, and get tips on how to improve it. Plus, it's an excellent opportunity to check all the info on your report is correct and up-to-date. If something's not right, it's easy to get it sorted, so it doesn't impact your tenant application.
Improving your credit score could make renting a home much more straightforward, now and in the future, as you're more likely to pass your checks. What's more, it's totally free, forever. So, if you need to move again in the future, you can check your report again.
Your application is successful? - get ready for the move
We may ask for your bank account details or a bank statement to verify your bank account, your passport, and any relevant visas to prove your right to live in the UK. Having these ready will help you keep your application ticking along and prevent unnecessary delays. Make sure your paperwork is in date and valid - if they're not, we can't use them, and the time it takes between us requesting new documents and the tenant sourcing and sending them can often be very lengthy.
Also, make sure you send over all the details we need including FULL address and contact details, including your mobile number and email address.
If you're sending over bank statements as proof of your savings, they must include your FULL name. Otherwise, we can't accept them or will have to request that you re-send them - which can often make the process lengthier.
Give your referees a heads-up
We have strong links with all major UK employers, but we'll still need your authorisation to contact your employer. Without their answers, the application can't usually go any further, so by giving them prior notice, you can help to speed up the process.
You can also find out more about HomeLet's referencing process on our 'Being referenced' page.
Make sure you, your employers and your guarantors are available
It may seem obvious, but we often lose time trying to get hold of prospective tenants, their employers or their guarantors because of reasons that could have easily been avoided.
For example, if you're a teacher and you're about to break up for the Summer, don't provide the details for your school - provide the details for your Local Education Authority instead so that we can verify where you work even whilst your school is shut over Summer. Or, if your employer will be away for a few weeks, perhaps provide an alternative contact with whom we can speak.
Your application is successful? - get ready for the move
Once we've finished the referencing process, your application will show as 'Complete' online. This means the information has been sent back to your letting agent or landlord.
It's important to remember that your letting agent may carry out some additional checks after we've returned your reference, so just because your references are showing as 'Complete', this doesn't mean that you have got the property.
When you do have confirmation that your application is successful, it's time to start planning for the move!
We've also created a handy moving checklist to help make sure you're ready for the move!