Referencing a tenant will help you establish the fact that he/she is who they say they are.

What references should I ask for?

None - never ask the tenant to supply references - it is so easy to make them up especially with computers and photocopiers being as advanced as they are.

What referees do I ask for?

As an agent we always asked the tenant to supply the following referees:

Bank - account managers name, address of bank, bank account number and sort code and a telephone number (or look it up).

Employment: the name and address and telephone number of the employer and the correct department as well as any employer number.

Previous Landlord - a very useful one this, get the name, address and telephone number.

Now if the tenant can not provide the above information, look carefully as to the reasons given. Always be sceptical, but never too nosey that will put the tenant off. The tenant may have good reason.

What If?

The tenant has no bank account?

Then perhaps they have a building society account, if so then ensure you get these details instead and request a reference.

The tenant is about to start work for the first time?

Tread carefully. Firstly you will need a reference from an educational establishment that proves he/she attended there and gained the qualifications required to get the employment they have got. Secondly you will need a letter from the employer or future employer confirming that the tenant has employment and that the salary is sufficient to cover the monthly rent.

The tenant is about to start work for a new employer?

Get a reference from the previous employer, stating how long they were with the company and that they would not hesitate to re-employ the tenant in the future (letter enclosed a little later) and get a letter from the tenants' new employer stating that they are about to start work on a permanent contract and that the salary is sufficient to cover the monthly rent.

Tenant has no previous landlord?

Then we always sought references from 2 professional people, i.e. doctor, dentist, solicitor etc stating that the character of the tenant was trustworthy and that they would be unlikely to cause any nuisance or grief to the prospective landlord.

Always write to these people yourself, or if the tenant provides you with written references ensure that they are true, by contacting the person who has signed the reference.

Points to note:

If a potential tenant does not want to provide you with any information then think twice about letting them becoming your tenant.

Never judge people on appearances - yes, even I have been duped into this one within the first year of my training - cost the landlord a fortune!

Always check the references and that the referee actually exists!

If the tenant does not have a bank account or building society account, how are they going to pay you your rent? How do they get paid from their employer? How can they prove to you that they are financially stable and are not going to have a problem with paying the rent?

Remember that references are given in the strictest of confidence and you must not pass any of the information you receive about the tenant onto any other person without the tenants' permission.

Bank references are the worst references. Not only do they charge a fee of around 10 - 15.00 per status enquiry, they take an age to deliver them. Our method was to get the tenant to sign a standard letter, enclose a credit card number or tick a box saying that the fee could be taken from their account, saving you having to pay and send the original to the bank. As I said we will enclose the letters at the end of this document. Bank references can be bit confusing when you get the reply. For example if the bank returns a reply stating the person in question is good for the amount of . Per month - no problem. If the bank says they should be good for the amount, not a bad reference really. Should the bank say they are surprised to see the person in question having this amount of money taken from their account watch out. However, if they say they are surprised but as long as it is replacing current commitments then this could be fine as long as the person in question does just that. i.e. replaces one monthly rent with yours! Read the reply carefully. Remember banks will never be derogatory about the person they are replying about after all it is their customer, but a lot can be read into them. So please check them carefully.


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