What is referencing process when renting a London flat?

We have prepared this guide for you, to de-mystify the referencing and credit check process. Read on to find out more!

1. Why Referencing?

Unlike a short-term rental booking, where the whole amount can be paid in advance, renting a London flat for the long-term (> 90 days) most often requires a commitment to pay rent according to a schedule during the period of occupation. There will be multiple payments of rent.

As a renter, your financial status will be checked to ensure that you can meet the financial commitments of the rental contract. That process is called referencing.

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2. What does referencing check?

The 3 main checks are for affordability, background history, and a right to rent check in the UK, which is a legal requirement.

3. Who does the check?

Reference checks are carried out by 3rd party financially regulated credit reference companies, licensed to handle your personal information. These checks are carried out independent of RentLondonFlat, and also independent of the Owner, we do not control their referencing criteria.

The referencing check will produce a report, which will be presented to the Owner for approval.

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4. Holding Deposits

In order to start your referencing application and secure your offer to rent a London flat, a refundable holding deposit equal to 1 week’s worth of rent should be paid first.

The referencing process cannot begin until the holding deposit is paid.

Next – after referencing, paying the tenancy deposit

More questions about referencing when renting a London flat?

The referencing process takes time and money to complete and fees have to be paid by the Owner to the referencing company, whether your pass or fail the referencing.

Consequently, as an indication of the genuineness of your application and rental offer, you must make an advance payment before starting the referencing process. This advance payment is called a “holding deposit”.

(Note: the holding deposit should not be confused with the tenancy deposit, which is a separate payment made later in the rental process.)

During this time, the property may still have other applicants interested in the property, and who may rent the property.

If your application is successful, the holding deposit deducted from the first month’s rent. Your holding deposit is paid into a dedicated client monies account and is protected.

All prospective tenants are asked to undergo the same referencing process, we do not as an agency discriminate between applicants based on their universal credit, or housing benefit status. We do not have any rule that applies specifically to people receiving welfare.

We follow industry-standard advice regarding rent affordability, and also delegate the checks on financial status of applicants to an independent referencing company.

It is ultimately the proeprty Owner’s decision, after having reviewed the referencing report, as to whether to accept and proceed with the rental application.

Depending on the credit referencing company they will typically request some if not all of the following types of documents from each Guest:

1. Photo Identification (Usually Passport)
2. Proof of Income (Bank Statement or Salary Slips)
3. Access to your Banking records if you have Open Banking
4. Reference letter from your Employer or University
5. Reference letter from a previous Landlord or Letting Agent
6. Proof of previous or current address (e.g. Utility bill)

The affordability criteria used by most credit reference agencies is the total household income should exceed 2.5 times the rent. So if the rent is £1,000 per month then total household income should exceed £2,500. If there are 2 people renting the flat (household) and they both earn more than £1,250 then they will pass the affordability criteria. Proof of income should usually be in the form of the last 3 months salary slips.

If your provable combined household income is not 2.5X more than the rent you may still be able to rent the property under the following conditions:

1. The rent is paid in advance for the amount of the tenancy contractual period. e.g. if the total cost of renting for 12 months is £12,000 you can pay the full £12,000 upfront

2. You have a UK Based guarantor who will guarantee rent payment if the tenants do not pay the rent. The UK guarantor will need to provide exactly the same documents as a normal Guest and pass referencing checks then sign a separate Letter of Guarantee

You should provide the contact details of your manager or department that the referencing company should contact in order to obtain your employment or university reference form. The referencing company will then contact them accordingly to confirm you are in employment or enrolled into the university or college as a student.

If you have rented a property in the UK before, you can provide us with the contact details of your previous landlord or the letting agency that you rented the property from. The referencing company will then contact them to confirm that you stayed at that property previously and ask for a reference. This will ask if there were any damages at the property, if it was kept in good condition and if rent payments were made on time. If you have one and have a good rental history you should provide this previous reference, as it will help your application for the new property. If you do not have a previous rental history then you can still apply to rent the property and this will be taken into account with your overall application.

It usually takes between 5-10 working days as the referencing company will need need to contact your references for responses and this may get delayed. You can expedite the process by asking your references to submit replies as soon as they are able to. The tenancy can not proceed until all Guests at the property have completed their reference checks and application. So it is a good idea to start this as soon as possible and get answers and documents in as quickly as possible in order to avoid any delays.

It depends on the reason for a referencing failing as sometimes this can just be administrative errors that can easily be fixed or just providing more answers or clarification of any questions raised by the referencing company. However, if there are issues that we were not made aware off in advance that you did not declare, like a County Court Judgement, a criminal record or a poor credit history, then this could adversely affect your application and referencing. It is best to provide full disclosure from the start if you are aware of anything that may affect your credit rating, to avoid disappointment and potential risk of losing your holding deposit if you fail referencing. If you are at all un-sure you should contact our Guest Services team to discuss your application before hand.

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