Tenant's Toolkit

Reference checks

A landlord or letting agent will want to check you will be a reliable tenant and able to afford the rent.

Over 95% of reference checks come back fine, but the following could cause you problems:

  • unpaid debts leading to County Court Judgements
  • unpaid council tax bills
  • insufficient income

Proof of identity

Your landlord or letting agent will want to see photo ID, such as a driving licence or passport.

If you don't have photo ID, a signed bank card or a utility bill from your current home may be enough.

Go to this link for more information on the types of documents that can be used as proof of identity.

Right to rent

You will need to show your passport or immigration documents as proof that you have the right to stay in the UK and to rent.

If you are a British or Irish citizen without a passport, your birth certificate plus another accepted proof of identity should be enough. 

Find more information on why you need to prove your right to rent here.

The landlord or letting agent will also need to see the documents of anyone aged 18 or over who will be living with you.

Financial circumstances

A landlord will want proof that you will be able to afford the rent.

They could ask to see:

  • your employment contract
  • recent payslips or bank statements
  • a letter from your employer confirming you work for them and how long for
  • accounts or bank statements if you're self-employed
  • award letters if claiming benefits

Credit checks

Most landlords run a credit check to see if you've had problems paying bills in the past.

They will need your written permission to do this.

Be honest about a bad credit rating before you pay any fees or you risk losing them if you fail the check.

If you have a poor credit history you could be asked to provide a larger deposit, pay more rent in advance or find a guarantor.

You can check your own credit record through one of the following credit agencies, but they will charge you a fee to do so:


The landlord or letting agent may want to contact your previous landlords to check you are a reliable and trustworthy tenant. They may ask for:

  • contact details of your landlords for the past three years
  • the addresses and dates of everywhere you've lived in this time

If you cannot get a reference, the landlord or letting agent could ask you to provide:

  • a previous tenancy agreement
  • bank statements to show you paid the rent on time

If you haven't rented before, you may be asked for the contact details of your parents or a guardian.


If a landlord or letting agent has concerns about your ability to pay the rent or if it is your first time renting, they may ask you to find a guarantor.

A guarantor is a person who agrees to pay the rent or cover damage to the property if you don't pay it. 

The landlord may ask your guarantor to agree to a credit check or any other checks that they have carried out on you.