Tenant referencing is one of the most vital aspects that landlords need to undertake before letting their property. The initial excitement of finding a tenant can be short-lived if it turns out they are not suitable for the investment property.
Every landlord's aim for low-risk lettings entails finding a high-quality tenant that pays the rent on time and takes good care of the property. Without rigorous tenant referencing, you can’t be sure that a suitable renter will move into your buy-to-let home.
When it comes to right to rent checks, landlords have the option to do it themselves. Yet with such necessary measures involved, it’s best advised to leave referencing to professional companies. With so many referencing agencies to choose from, however, selecting the right one can be an overwhelming task.
That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive guide of the primary referencing companies for London landlords. Read on, and find out the best way to let your property to the best-referenced tenants, hassle-free.
The renting situation can quickly turn sour if the individual that is staying in your property turns out to be unfit for purpose - eg, they don’t pay the rent on time, don’t maintain the condition of the property, or generally become a problem tenant.
Tenant referencing means landlords can thoroughly vet prospective tenants to see if they are suitable. A tenancy reference check is typically carried out by a referencing company, which is either sourced by the landlord or the letting agency involved with the rental.
The reference report will provide a thorough background on the prospective tenant, giving landlords all the information to make a decision that is in their best interests. The result of the check will indicate whether the tenant is a good fit or not.
If a tenant fails a reference check, the landlord has the option to ask for a guarantor. This is another party who will guarantee the full amount of rent if the tenant is unable to pay. Rent guarantors often need to be between 18-75, a UK homeowner, have a good credit history and earn 2.5x the annual rent.
The results of a tenant check provide an in-depth report that covers every aspect of the prospective tenant’s history. These include:
Landlords are also required to carry out a Right to Rent check on tenants, which involves proof of someone's legal right to live and work in the UK. For UK residents, a valid passport will be enough. These rules also currently apply to EU residents, though the process may change once the UK withdraws from the European Union.
If the tenant is from outside of the EU, they will need to provide a visa declaring their legal status to live and work in the UK. Tenants will often be required to provide a letter of employment that confirms they are legally working.
Landlords have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to tenant referencing. The sheer volume available can be somewhat overwhelming, especially as there are referencing services that go through letting agents, as well as companies that act alone. Some of the most notable tenant referencing agencies include:
Rent4Sure is one of the primary tenant referencing services in the UK, specifically, in London. It verifies tenants for landlords and offers a range of services that include referencing for individual tenants and companies, rent protection, legal expenses, tenants’ liability insurance and landlords’ insurance.
Other aspects covered by Rent4Sure include Right to Rent and identity verification. Report types include instant credit checks and in-depth tenant referencing reports that cover residency and identity checks using BT telephone databases, credit agreements, court data and the Electoral Roll.
All checks are carried out using their online platform, which landlords have direct access to.. This means landlords need to have some input themselves, logging onto the system to understand and check the results.
Much like Rent4Sure, Tenantdata has its own online system that generates results for tenant referencing checks. Tenantdata primarily works with letting agents and provides fully comprehensive checks on prospective tenants.
It carries out credit checks and full tenant reports, as well as an e-sign option for tenants and landlords to complete the AST lettings agreement. Tenantdata will also collect the deposit and first month’s rent on behalf of the landlord.
However, Tenantdata’s service is primarily catered towards letting agents rather than solo landlords. As a result, landlords might find it trickier to use a service that has been designed for large-scale letting agencies like JLL and Carter Jonas.
As part of the National Landlords Association, NLA Tenant Check sells its service on an in-depth, manual tenant check for each applicant that is processed by one of their trained team members. It builds its offering with a bespoke service that doesn’t use automated systems, unlike Rent4Sure and Tenantdata.
There is also a Basic Tenant Check section where landlords can obtain their own references,which provides an instant credit report of tenants. The full tenant check, which is carried out by their personnel, includes in-depth information such as affordability calculations and goes as far as to check whether the tenant has a criminal record.
Pricing varies depending on the type of check you undertake, though there is a membership available to the National Landlords Association that provides discounted prices. Costs for multiple checks can be as high as £950, and some services are only available to members.
For London landlords who don’t want to deal with the hassle of sourcing tenant references on their own, Blueground handles the entire letting process. As a real estate tech company handling more than 3,000 furnished apartments worldwide, we take care of equipping and positioning your flat as a premium corporate housing for expats, diplomats and other high-calibre renters.
We sort out tenant referencing checks, including a thorough screening process that includes credit history, employment details, previous renting history, current financial status and more. We provide all the checks you would expect from a referencing agency without any of the hassle involved with logging into systems and managing applications yourself. Our landlords also enjoy zero property management feed and guaranteed monthly income for the length of your multi-year lease (regardless of the unit’s occupancy rate).
The goal is to provide landlords we work with the ability to sit back, relax and enjoy their passive income.
Whichever way you decide to go with your tenancy plans, making sure that diligent checks are carried out is vital. Having a tenant who doesn’t pay rent on time or causes other issues in your property will in turn, cause a myriad of problems, including loss of income and a struggle to remove the tenant - especially with Section 21 set to be abolished.
As a landlord, you want to minimise stress when it comes to letting and have your investment act as a safe way of earning more income. At Blueground, we rent the property from you directly, which sees us act as the tenants. The result means Blueground guarantees you monthly rental payments, whether it’s tenanted or not. As a result, you avoid void periods and benefit from guaranteed income for your rental property.