A Guide to Reference Checks

A Guide to Reference Checks

Don’t make the rookie mistake of cutting corners with reference checks – it’s a sure-fire way to wind up with a nightmare tenant. A three-minute read.


When it comes to tenant selection, there’s a saying that all landlords should heed: Go with the right tenant, not the first tenant.

Sometimes, landlords are so eager to see rent payments rolling in that they treat the reference checking process as a tick-box exercise rather than an investigative one.

But rushing to green-light the first person willing to take your property can come back to haunt you.


What do reference checks involve?

It’s a complex process (for a full list get in touch with us here at Cobb Amos), but key aspects include:

  • ID checks (to make sure the candidate is who they say they are)
  • Credit history
  • References from previous landlords and current employer


Credit checks

County court judgments and unpaid debts are obvious red flags, but it’s important to delve deeper than that. You need to review a candidate’s full credit report and get a clear overview of their financial commitments and history.

What kind of outgoings do they have regarding credit cards, loans, and bills? It may be that technically the candidate can afford the rent, but with their other debt repayments, it would be a serious squeeze.

Also, examine their track record when it comes to paying bills. A history of late payments suggests that they’re disorganised with their finances – bad news if you want the rent paid on time.


Landlord references

References from a candidate’s previous landlords are useful – up to a point. We know of cases where a landlord has written a troublesome tenant a good reference just to get shot of them (not ethical, but it happens).

If you have doubts about a candidate’s suitability, don’t let a positive landlord reference be the deciding factor in giving them a property.


Employer references

It’s important to check a candidate’s salary with their employer, but don’t take a company email at face value (sometimes people get a ‘mate’ in HR to inflate their earnings).

Ask to see payslips and bank statements and ring the employer yourself to verify the accuracy of the email’s contents.


Top tip

Gambling on a risky tenant can turn out to be a costly decision – so invest time and energy in the tenant referencing process.

Get a good letting agent on board if you’d like an expert to handle it for you.


Contact our Lettings team on 01432 266007 or email lettings@cobbamos.com to learn about our property management services.