How to reference tenants properly: A beginner’s guide for landlords

If you’ve had negative experiences with tenants damaging your property or not paying rent on time, you’re not alone. In 2018, Rightmove found that UK landlords have three major pain points: empty properties, late or unpaid rent, and property damage. Preventing these issues and enjoying a stress-free tenancy agreement means finding great occupants – and this is why it’s crucial to reference tenants. 

Referencing tenants properly from the start can save a lot of time and hassle. By filtering potential tenants at the point of viewings and conducting thorough background checks before signing an agreement, you can find great occupants to fill your rental properties.  

With help from Bunk, referencing tenants effectively has never been so simple. Let’s begin with our introductory guide to background tenant checks.

Verify their identity 

Before anyone moves into your rental property, you need to confirm they are who they say they are. Usually, you can verify a potential tenant’s identity by checking a form of government-approved ID, such as a current passport or photocard driving licence. 

During this process, you must also conduct a right to rent check. This ensures that your future tenants have a right to rent property in the UK and includes checking their immigration status before signing a tenancy agreement.

Conduct a financial background check 

A financial background check is one of the most important parts of a tenant reference. This is the part that will alert you to any financial reasons why a tenant might miss rent payments. 

Before renting out a property, you need to make sure that you can rely on prospective tenants to pay their rent on time. With this in mind, make sure you carry out the following before signing a tenancy agreement:

  • Conduct a comprehensive credit check with a reputable credit check agency. Here, look out for a history of bankruptcy, insolvency or County Court Judgements (CCJs). 
  • Request proof of current income, such as a bank statement or payslip. Make sure all potential tenants are receiving regular payments from their employer. 
  • Ask for proof of employment, such as a recent payslip or employer reference. An employer reference can help to verify potential tenants’ income information. 

When you manage your property with Bunk, we can conduct financial background checks on your behalf. We’ll take care of the entire tenant referencing process, including credit checks, to ensure that you have reliable occupants moving in. We’ll even reference your tenants’ guarantors thoroughly to make sure you never miss a rent payment. 

Check references from previous landlords or property managers

Another vital part of the tenant check process is to obtain references from previous landlords or property managers. This is a great way to get a character reference for the tenant. In particular, you want to know whether the occupant has a history of damaging rental properties or breaking the rules of the tenancy agreement. 

Ideally, you should collect more than one landlord reference. This way, you can make sure that you’ve got a great tenant moving in! 

At Bunk, we make it easier than ever for landlords and property managers to conduct thorough tenant checks with our helpful digital lettings platform. When you manage your portfolio with Bunk, we’ll take care of the entire process. We’ll obtain a full identity verification, employer check, and credit history report on your behalf, giving you one less thing to worry about. To find out how Bunk is helping property managers across the UK, book a free 30-minute demo with one of our lettings experts today.


Picture of Heather Mitchell

Heather Mitchell

Originally from the midlands, Heather is our client success lead here at Bunk. When she is not making the lives of our landlords a whole lot easier, you can find her cooking spicy food and painting canvas art.

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