How to Prepare for a Rental Credit Check | Martin & Co.
If you’re looking to rent a property through a letting agent, you’ll need to go through a credit check.
Credit checks can be nerve-racking, but there are steps you can take in advance to prepare and ensure you have the best chance of passing and being able to rent the property you love.
What is a credit check?
Credit checks show your credit history and how reliable you are at paying back money you owe.
Companies or third parties will look at your credit report and assess your financial behaviour before deciding whether to lend to you or in the case of a landlord, let you rent their property.
Do you need to pass a credit check to rent?
If you apply to rent a property through a letting agent, they’ll perform a credit check.
Tenant credit checks are a vital part of the referencing process for landlords and help them decide if you’re a reliable tenant and good with managing your money.
There’s no set credit score that counts as a ‘pass’, but if your credit report contains County Court Judgments (CCJs) or insolvencies, the landlord will be less likely to rent to you.
What do they look for in a rental credit check?
Credit searches by letting agents and landlords are known as ‘soft’ searches.
This means they’ll only check the public information on your credit report.
This will include:
- Information on any County Court Judgments (CCJs) or insolvencies caused by missed payments in the past
- Your electoral roll status to prove the address you’ve provided is the one you’re living at
- Whether there are any credit accounts linked to the name and address on the credit report
- ‘Soft’ credit checks don’t reveal detailed information about money you’ve borrowed and/or paid back in the past and don’t affect your credit score in the same way a ‘hard’ search would.
Why would you fail a credit check for renting?
The most common reasons for landlords rejecting a tenant’s application after a credit check are because of County Court Judgments (CCJs) or other insolvency issues like bankruptcy.
As well as a credit check, your landlord’s letting agent will carry out additional affordability and reference checks, including:
- Checking proof of income
- Right to Rent immigration checks
- References from previous landlords and your employer
Can I rent if I have bad credit?
County Court Judgments (CCJs) and other insolvency notices on your credit file will make renting a property more difficult.
A CCJ or bankruptcy notice will stay on your file for six years and active insolvency notices like these will be seen by your letting agent when they perform a credit check.
Ultimately, the decision on whether to accept you lies with your landlord and they may ask for a guarantor to support your application if your credit check reveals any red flags.
How to pass a rental credit check
To give yourself the best chance of sailing through rental property credit checks, you should:
1. Check your credit report before renting
Checking your credit report before renting can reveal any potential issues before your letting agent makes their checks.
You can check your credit score and file through the two main credit agencies in the UK:
You may also be able to check your public credit report through your bank.
2. Correct any errors on your report
If you notice any errors when you check your credit file, speak to either Equifax or Experian by phone or online.
Incorrect information on your report that could affect your rental property application might include:
- A County Court Judgment that has been settled but is still showing on your report
- Fraudulent activity on things like credit cards
- Unrecorded credit history, giving the impression that you have no financial history
3. Make sure you’re on the electoral roll
One of the most important items on your ‘soft’ public credit history is electoral roll registration.
Being registered to vote, even if you don’t actually vote in elections, is a legal requirement, but it also helps your credit score.
Your name and address from the electoral roll are recorded on your credit file so helps letting agents to confirm your identity, boosting your score.
4. Provide other proof of your credit history
Having little or no credit history can damage your credit score – even though it could be due to you managing your finances so well that you’ve never required any credit.
If you have what’s known as a ‘thin file’, you could provide other proof of your financial history to show you’d be a reliable tenant.
That may include bank statements showing bill payments going out on time or statements from utility companies showing that you’re up to date with your bills.
5. Prepare a guarantor
If you’re worried that your credit report may affect your rental property application, it can be worth setting up a guarantor in advance.
A guarantor is often a parent or relative who supports your application by agreeing to pay your rent if you fall into arrears.
Your guarantor would need to go through the same credit checks as you and sign an agreement confirming their obligations.