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Checks your landlord or letting agent will make

This advice applies to England

Before you can rent a property you’II need to provide information and documents to show you’II be a good tenant.

You will also have to show you and any other adults that will be living with you have the ‘right to rent’ in the UK.

Having your documents ready can help you rent more quickly.

Get your landlord’s or letting agent’s name and contact details before you give them your documents.

Proving you have the right to rent 

Your landlord or letting agent will ask to see your immigration documents or passport when you start or renew your tenancy. They will also ask to see the documents of any other adults living with you. They do this to check you have the right to live in the UK and to rent - this is called the ‘right to rent check’.

Read more about the documents you can show for the right to rent check on GOV.UK.

If you don't have any documents

If you don't have any documents because you're waiting for an immigration decision from the Home Office, ask the landlord to request a 'right to rent' check from the Home Office. They should reply within 2 working days.

If you’ve lived in the UK since before 1988, for example if you’re part of the Windrush generation, and you don’t have any documents, you’ll need to tell the landlord how long you’ve lived in the UK. The landlord should contact the Landlord Checking Service, who’ll let them know if you have the ‘right to rent’ and give you the right documents.

If the landlord doesn’t contact the Landlord Checking Service, you can get advice from the Home Office’s Commonwealth Taskforce.

Home Office - Commonwealth Taskforce
Telephone: 0800 678 1925
Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm
Sunday, 10am to 4pm
Email: commonwealthtaskforce@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

If you’re not sure about your immigration status get immigration advice before you contact the Commonwealth Taskforce.

If you think you’ve been discriminated against

If you have the right to rent in the UK your landlord can’t refuse to rent to you because of your race or nationality for example. This is called discrimination. 

You can check if your problem is discrimination or get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you think you’ve been discriminated against.

Reference checks

You'II be asked to give references to show you can afford the property, and will be a good tenant.

You'll usually have to give a reference from:

  • your current landlord and previous landlords if you're renting from a letting agent
  • your employer - to show you have a job and it will continue

If you're asked to give your recent bank statements to show your income, make sure you cover over your account numbers for security.

If you're self-employed, you might need to give copies of your trading accounts and an accountant's reference.

Getting a guarantor 

You might be asked to provide a guarantor, for example if you haven't rented before. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay the rent if you don't - you could ask your parents or someone else in your family to do this.

If you can’t give a reference

You might still be able to rent, even if you can't get a reference.

Explain to your landlord or letting agent why you're not able to get a reference. If you paid rent on time in the past, show them your tenancy agreement and rent book or bank statements to prove this.

You could also ask for a 'character reference' - a letter from an employer or someone who knows you well, to show that you're reliable.

Credit checks

Your letting agent and some landlords will do a credit check to see if you’ve had problems paying bills in the past. They must get your permission first.

It’s less common for private landlords to do credit checks because they can make it take longer to rent out a property.

If you’ve got a bad credit history, it’s best to be honest and explain the situation. If you're renting through a letting agent, do this before you give them any money - if you fail a credit check, you might not get your money back.

If you agree to start your tenancy on or after 1 June 2019, your landlord or letting agent shouldn’t force you to pay a fee for a credit check. If they do you can report them to Trading Standards.

If you fail a credit check, explain why you think this might have happened. If you know you can pay the rent, tell your landlord or letting agent. They might still rent to you if you offer to pay a larger deposit, more rent in advance or if you can get a guarantor.

Read more about deposits, rent in advance and guarantors.

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