How To Reference Tenants

It’s a process

Tenant referencing is part of managing a property for a landlord, and as many landlords will no doubt attest, it’s a very important part.

It’s a process that requires the tenant to provide references and also requires the landlord to run the necessary credit checks / scores etc. A landlord will use the process to vet or screen potential tenants.

Tenant referencing is crucial because it allows a landlord to weed out and avoid the small percentage of applicants that have exhibited problematic behaviour when renting properties in the past.

Non payment of rent, anti social behaviour and in some cases misrepresentation i.e. they aren’t who they claim to be.

Landlord’s are always nervous about the possibility of their buy to let properties sitting empty [a void period], but upon reflection, most that have experienced the headaches that are often associated with a problem tenant would agree that it’s better to take a longer ‘void’ period than to have a bad tenant in occupancy.

Don’t be fooled

So often in life we accept things at face value, but when you become a landlord it pays to look beneath the surface. Just because a potential tenant says all the ‘right’ things, does not guarantee that once they are your tenant, that they will do all the right things.

So don’t be fooled. Just because someone drives a luxury car and wears expensive clothes doesn’t mean that they have the money to pay their rent or even that they will if they do have it. Ideal tenants still need to be referenced = make no exceptions, after all they are still a stranger at this stage.

You can use any advert that you place [be it on the web or in a shop window] to attract the type of tenant and discourage any undesirables at the same time. If you are aiming for and would like professional people as your tenants, then don’t be afraid to say so. You will make your intentions clear and avoid wasting time meeting the wrong ‘type’ of potential tenant.

Remember; you may have a number of individuals that are interested and it will take time out of your day or evening to meet each one, so narrowing the field early on will be the best use of your time.

The Experts

If you are going it alone and plan to find tenants yourself, that doesn’t mean that you have to vet them yourself; there are professional companies that can provide you with a service for a fee. Some companies even have the ability to provide you with testimonials from a potential tenant’s previous landlords.


  • By carrying out reference and credit checks on your potential tenant, you are protecting your asset
  • Don’t let a potential tenant persuade you to disregard carrying out the necessary checks for money up front in addition to a deposit etc
  • Your tenant won’t object to being checked and referenced, unless the have something to hide
  • Referencing will give you a reasonably accurate picture of who this person is, but stipulate that they must provide character references from individuals that YOU choose i.e. Employer [Company Director, Team Leader, Line Manager etc. Previous Landlord’s are usually happy to provide good tenants with a glowing reference, if they HAVE been good!
  • Get both a credit check and a tenant reference; one of the two isn’t enough and won’t do.