While moving into a new home can be an exciting experience, it can also prove stressful at times.
So, when it comes to paperwork, what do you need to rent a house or flat, exactly? There are quite a few documents you'll need ready for the landlord or letting agent. They'll need to check your right to rent property in the UK, confirm your identity, check your employment status and assess your credit score.
To help make the process as streamlined and stress-free as possible for you, we've put together this handy guide on what documents you need to rent a house or apartment in the UK.
So, what do you need to rent a house or flat? We've categorised the documents you need below so you can get everything ready for your house move.
Character and employment references
A letting agent or landlord will ask you to provide references that indicate your eligibility for the property that will become your home. Often, whether your application is successful or not will depend on the results of your references. Several things are checked as part of this process, including your character, employment and salary information.
You'll need to speak to your employer and ask them to provide a reference for you to confirm your employment details, income, and insight into your character. You may also need to provide a reference from your previous landlord that shows you're a responsible tenant, for instance, stating how reliable you are with rent payments and how well you looked after the house or flat.
How you provide your references will depend on how the letting agent or landlord handles their referencing. If they manage this manually, you'll need to provide a written copy of your references and the referees' contact details. If the agent or landlord uses an external company to process references, then you may need to get set up with the company and provide the contact details of the relevant people. Typically, the company will then contact them via phone or email to obtain the references.
Documents that show your income and employment status
In addition to getting a reference from your employer, you'll need to provide certain documents that prove your employment status and your monthly or annual income. This is so the landlord can determine if you can afford the rent and your income is stable. Which documents you need to give will depend on whether you're a full-time employee or self-employed.
If you’re an employee
If you're an employee, there are several documents you can provide to prove your income and employment. This is most commonly three to six of your most recent payslips from work. Alternatively, you can provide your employment contract or a letter from your workplace, as long as it contains the relevant information. Technology is helping to make the income verification process much smoother. With innovations in Open Banking, we can now automate this process in many cases. Where your letting agent uses our Tenant Referencing services, you'll be able to benefit from this feature.
If you're self-employed
If you're self-employed, you may need to prove your earnings over a longer period – often between one and three years. This could be in the form of bank statements, trading records or your tax returns. If you use an accountant, you may also need to provide their details so the letting agent can get a reference from them.
The landlord or letting agent will need confirmation of your income so that they can run an affordability check, which establishes whether you will be able to keep up with rent payments. To pass this part of the application process, your salary will need to be 30 times higher than the monthly rent. For example, if your rent is £800 per month, your annual salary will need to be £24,000 or higher. If you're moving into a flat with friends, family members, or your partner, the affordability check will consider all incomes.
Documents that confirm your identity and right to rent
So, what other documents do you need to rent a house or flat? You'll also need to provide paperwork that confirms your identity and your current address, such as your passport, driving license or utility bill. If you're moving to the UK from abroad, you'll need to provide a copy of your visa.
You must also provide documents that prove you and any other adults living in the property have the right to rent in the UK. This could be a passport, national identity card, immigration status document or other paperwork listed as acceptable in the Government's list for right to rent checks.
When you apply to rent a property, the landlord or letting agency will run a credit check to assess your credit score. This gives them insight into your credit history so they have an idea of how reliable you may be with rent payments. Your credit score is calculated by looking at several financial factors and can be negatively impacted by missed payments, unpaid loans, and defaults on accounts.
While there's no document you need to provide that states your credit score, it's an important piece of information to have before you apply to rent a property. This is because having full visibility of your credit score, good or bad, will help you to manage this part of the application process. For instance, if you have a less-than-perfect credit score, you may still be able to rent the property. This may mean paying rent up front or having a guarantor co-sign your tenancy agreement. If you're unable to pay your rent and have a guarantor, they would step in and pay the rent to the landlord.
It's important to note that your landlord or letting agent cannot complete a credit check without your permission, and they cannot make you pay any fees for carrying one out. If you'd like to check your credit score, you can do it for free using TotallyMoney.
No matter where you're planning to move, it's worth preparing the documents you need to rent a house in advance if you can. Demand for properties can be extremely high, so when an attractive house or flat comes along, many prospective tenants may be keen to make it their own. This can mean that time is of the essence when it comes to house-hunting.
Having all the necessary paperwork ready in advance means you can hand it over straight away once you find the right place. This could give you the advantage over other tenants who need time to get their paperwork together, especially if the landlord is keen to get everything sorted quickly.
Plus, by having everything ready to go, the rest of the process should be less stressful, giving you more time to plan other elements of the move into your new home.