Your Ultimate Guide on How to Pass a Tenant Referencing Check

Guide Articles Dec 15, 2021

Applying for a new rental can be time-consuming. Not only do you have to view and research the property to ensure it’s the right fit for you, but you also have to prepare your rental application, write a cover letter, get references and win over your landlord. After all that effort, the last thing you want to happen is to fail your tenant referencing check and have to start all over again.

To help you pass your tenant referencing check first-time, we’ve prepared an ultimate guide to tenant referencing checks with information about how they work, how you can fail and (most importantly) how to pass!

What is a Tenant Referencing Check?

Put simply, a tenant referencing check is something every landlord and letting agent will do before accepting your rental application. Generally, these checks are designed to provide reassurance to the landlord that you can afford to rent the property. However, some parts of tenant referencing checks are required by law in the UK, like checking your immigration and right to rent status.

What is Checked in Tenant Referencing?

While you may need to supply lots of information to your letting agent when writing your rental application, three main aspects are checked during tenant referencing.

In the UK, the following things about you (and any other person that’ll be renting the property with you) are checked during tenant referencing:

  • Your right to rent status – Also known as your immigration status for whether you’re eligible to rent a property in the UK. This is a legal requirement that all landlords must fulfil.
  • Whether you can afford the rent – Known as the financial check, tenant referencing will review recent payslips, an employment contract and/or proof of your benefit income.
  • Your credit history – While it isn’t compulsory, many landlords will also check your credit history and score through the main credit providers. They need your written permission to do this, so you can say you’re happy for it to proceed in your rental application to speed things up.

Depending on the landlord or letting agent, the tenant referencing check may also involve:

  • Calling or emailing your references to see if you’re a reliable tenant
  • Speaking to your guarantor and running a credit check on them

How Do You Fail a Tenant Referencing Check?

There are numerous reasons why you may fail a credit referencing check. Common reasons for failure are usually because you either:

  • Cannot afford the property
  • Have bad references
  • Don’t have the right to rent in the UK because of your immigration status
  • Have a poor credit history or an issue with your score that causes your landlord or letting agent significant concern

Failing a tenant referencing check can be rare, as you would’ve done your research about whether you can afford (and are legally allowed) to rent the property before applying.

However, if you fail and it’s not from one of the reasons listed above, ask your landlord or letting agent why. Remember that landlords cannot fail you just because you are on benefits and this is considered discriminatory.

What Should I Do if I’ve Failed My Tenant Referencing Check?

Depending on the reason why you failed your tenant referencing check, there are different solutions you can negotiate. The best place to start is to find out the reason why you failed. Most landlords and letting agents will provide an adequate reason, but if they don’t, make sure you ask for one.

Failed Your Immigration Check?

If you’ve failed your tenant referencing check because your immigration status doesn’t give you the right to rent in the UK, there’s not much your landlord or letting agent can do. Renting to you anyway would be against the law. However, you can make enquiries about your visa to see if a solution can be found.

Failed the Financial or Credit Check?

Failing the financial check is usually quite a serious issue since it checks whether you can afford the rent payments. If this happens, move on and look for somewhere cheaper to rent. If you fail because of an issue with your credit score, you may be able to negotiate. Try explaining any issues on your credit report and ask the landlord if they will accept your application if you find a suitable guarantor.

Failed the Reference Check?

Let’s face it, if your references didn’t provide a good one, you probably picked the wrong people. However, if your previous landlord told your new landlord about things like skipping rent payments or leaving the property in a bad state when you left, they could fail you on this basis.

Provided you’ve learned your lessons and don’t plan on missing payments or neglecting the property in the future, you can attempt to make amends with your prospective landlord. Consider writing them a letter or sending a video résumé through the letting agent to explain your previous situation (particularly the reason why payments were missed) and outline how you plan to act in the future.

Just remember that a landlord can still reject your application if they don’t believe you’re a trustworthy tenant that will look after their property. And if your negotiation attempt is unsuccessful, move on.

Will I Get My Holding Deposit Back if I Fail?

Unfortunately, failing a tenant referencing check doesn’t always mean you’ll get your holding deposit back. In truth, it depends on the reasons why you failed.

You should get your holding deposit back if:

  • You failed the financial check, but told the truth about your financial situation
  • You failed the immigration check and your landlord did not provide a written reason within 7 days of rejecting your application as to why they should keep it

You may not get your holding deposit back if:

  • You failed the financial checks and were untruthful about your financial situation, to begin with
  • You failed the immigration check and your landlord did provide a written reason within 7 days of rejecting your application as to why they need to keep your holding deposit

Tips on How to Pass a Tenant Referencing Check

Apply Wisely

The best way to make sure you pass your tenant referencing check is to do your research before you apply. Only apply for a property if:

  • You can afford it
  • You’re willing to be upfront about your financial situation
  • You have the right to rent in the UK

Work On Your Credit Score

Before you start pinging off application forms for a new rental, check your credit score to see what’s going on with it. Most of the top online credit score providers give tips on how to improve your credit score. If there are a few easy fixes you can make to give things a boost, get it done before you apply.

Also, if you notice any mistakes with your credit report, get these fixed as soon as possible, too.

Be Upfront About Issues

Not telling your landlord or letting agent about issues is a sure-fire way to fail your tenant referencing check (and just generally annoy them!). While you may want to hide issues from your past – especially when it comes to missed rent payments because of an exceptional circumstance – covering it up can hinder your application. Plus, it can leave you at risk of not getting your holding deposit back.

One of the best ways to make your rental application stand out and avoid failing your check is, to be honest and upfront about known issues. A prospective landlord or letting agent will appreciate the honesty. They may even value your application over others because of it!

Are You Moving Rental?

If you’re preparing to move to a new rental, have you already started saving to pay for your tenancy deposit? At Fronted, we know that making an upfront cash payment can be tricky – especially if your money is tied up in your old deposit. Lifetime Deposits are a solution for tenants like you where your deposit moves home with you. Check out the details of how our Lifetime Deposits work or join our waiting list to be the first to use them when they launch.

Will Southall

If you're a renter, we've got your back. This corner of the Fronted site is loaded with everything from moving tips, Lifetime Deposits, and anything you need to make renting, or moving, a breeze.