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Tenant Screening: Everything You Need to Know

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

Whether it’s your first time or not, if you’re looking to rent, you might be wondering about the process of tenant checks.

What’s involved? Why are they carried out? What do they look for?

We can help answer your questions. Here’s everything you need to know about a tenant screening.

What is a tenancy check?

A tenant screening, also known as a tenant vetting, is the process when landlords and letting agents check the financial and personal stability of a prospective tenant.

Why is screening potential tenants important?

After you express interest in a property, landlords want to know if you’re going to:

  • Pay your rent on time
  • Look after the property in a responsible manner
  • Be a nuisance to either them or possible other tenants

A landlord’s top priority will be protecting their rental property. So, they’re going to want to safeguard against tenants who are irresponsible, or unwilling to maintain the property to a suitable standard.

Think of a tenant screening like a smaller-scale version of applying for a mortgage. As the tenant, you’re asking the landlord to trust you in their property. Landlords want to ensure their investment (their property) is safe when doing so.

Tenant referencing - what do they check?

A rental screening is a way for the landlord to find out everything there is to know about potential tenants.

The process of tenant screening can include, but is not limited to:

  • Credit checking
  • Talking to previous landlords and/or letting agent
  • Talking to any referees you might have cited on your application
  • Talking to any employers, past and present
  • Ensuring potential tenants have the funds or means of earning the funds to meet the rental commitment

It’s important to bear in mind that tenant screening services can vary. However, these are some of the main things property managers will want to know.

It’s also possible to carry out your own tenancy check! Getting pre-vetted can make you appear a more reliable tenant.

What information can be used?

There is of course a fine line between what information a landlord uncovers, and what they can use against you.

For example, it’s acceptable for them to refuse you as a tenant because you have a poor credit history, or you are well-documented for not paying your rent on time.

On the other hand, it’s unacceptable, and illegal, to use certain information to discriminate against you as a tenant.

When does the tenant referencing process begin?

The tenant screening process begins as soon as you complete a rental application and pay a holding deposit on the property.

As a general rule, letting agents tend to be much more rigorous in their checks than private landlords.

Is tenant screening legal?

Tenant screening is actively encouraged by the government. In fact, one of the landlord’s legally bound responsibilities is to check their tenant’s right to rent.

This means that, in addition to proving their financial stability, prospective tenants must also prove that they have a legal right to reside in the UK.

Tenant referencing companies

Although your application may be via a letting agency it will probably be one of base of independent tenant screening companies who will conduct the process for them.

How to pass the tenant background check

Your financial history and credit score will be the most important factors in the tenant screening report.

So, arm yourself with this knowledge! There are ways to ensure you are the ideal possible tenant! Here are some ways to pass the tenant screening:

  • Make more than 2.5 times the rent in monthly income
  • Always pay your rent on time! Have credit reports and landlord references to reflect this
  • Be able to afford the rent over the entire period of the tenancy. You can demonstrate this by having a stable work history


Renting in a new area? Phil Spencer's Property Report will tell you all you need to know. From rental estimates, to local crime stats, make sure you get the lowdown on your prospective property and the local area. Tempted? Get yours below!

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