Why do landlords ask for tenant references?

Like many landlords, we normally ask for tenant references from your employer, and your current or past landlord. But why do we?

The three main types of tenant reference

Tenant references

Your employment reference

We want to check you have stable employment that’s likely to last for the foreseeable future.

Someone with irregular hours or no minimum hours (zero hours contract) may struggle to pay the rent every month. Someone who has just started a new job is at higher risk of losing it, and anyone on a fixed term contract that is ending soon could mean they suddenly stop paying or need to move if it is not extended.

Everybody’s’ employment is different, so there usually no scoring here, just a judgement based on thier situation.

Previous landlords reference

If you have had a recent tenancy, knowing what that landlord thinks is really useful. Did you pay on time, every time? Did the landlord have to use some of your deposit to pay for damages or unpaid rent or charges?

Keeping on reasonable terms with your existing landlord when leaving is a good idea, even if just to get a better tenant reference when you leave.

(Wan’t to know how to keep your deposit? Read Protecting your deposit – a guide for tenants)

Credit check

We normally use a simple check that identifies any serious problems, such as court judgements against the potential you. Anything on here is likely to create you problems with finding a new property, getting a mobile phone contract or a loan.

It’s a good idea to occasionally get your own credit references and check there’s nothing on ther that’s wrong or that needs sorting. In the UK there are three main credit reference agencies – Callcredit, Equifax and Experian. You can get your credit report from them directly, or through a reseller for a few pounds, or sometimes for free.


Like most landlords, our primary concern is finding a good tenant tenant who is able to pay the rent for the duration of the contract – the references are designed to identify those at a higher risk of not paying.

A small amount of planning in advance can help often you get better references and maximise your chances of finding the ideal flat to let.

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