You finally found the perfect place to rent in London and are finally ready to start your new life. Amazing.
Ok, hold on your horses now! Renting a place in London can be quite tricky or lengthy at least. In this article, I give you a clear overview of all the documents needed to rent a property in London.
The rental property market in London is quite intricate and competitive and landlords have a plethora of candidates for the same property. This is why you need to prove your identity, employment status, character and most guess what? That you’ll be able to pay the rent
My personal advice is to start putting together all the needed docs even before you start house hunting, just in case everything moves fast, you know? Even better if you create a specific docs folder on your laptop so it's ready whenever you needed. The same type of info may be requested to you in the future if you decide to buy a property or a car, so do one big effort and you'll have an easy life later on.
Documents needed to rent a property in London
Proof of Identity
According to the law, applicants for a rental property must be aged over 18 and be a legal UK resident. Like any other legal transaction, proof of identity and current address is required in the form of:
- Photo ID (such as a valid passport or driving licence);
- Proof of address (such as utilities or tax bill);
- An Electoral Register entry.
- NOTE: If coming from abroad, a copy of your UK visa and associated documents allowing you to rent in the UK will also be required.
Proof of Employment and Earnings
While renting a property as a self-employed individual or as an entrepreneur is possible, I must admit that it's easier if you are in full-time employment. As a rule of thumb, you should earn at least 2-3 times the rent or you should be able to provide a guarantor.
If you are employed, you will need to provide:
- Recent payslips for the last three-six months;
- A current employment contract;
- A letter from your employer confirming your job title, salary and contract length;
- A tax return for the most recent tax year.
If you’re self-employed or run your own limited company, you might be asked to provide:
- Evidence of earnings and accounts via bank statements or invoice records;
- Company details (such as certificate and tax returns)
Also in this case, if you’re unable to sufficiently prove that you can support yourself, you can provide a guarantor or a significant amount of rent upfront.
To confirm that you have a good credit rating in the UK, it is likely that a credit check will be run against you. If you have a bad credit rating, be honest about this with the agency or the landlord and you might able to get the house anyway by paying a larger deposit or providing a guarantor.
As mentioned above, the landlord will need to check your identity, employment status and character. References have exactly this purpose. My second advice is to ask your referees at the beginning of your house-hunting process so they are aware they might get a call asking about you. You could ask your previous landlord to write or answer the questions for you if you have a good relationship with them. Additionally, the proof that you had your deposit fully refunded will have a positive impact as it confirms you didn't do any damages in that property.
The documents needed to check your character are:
- Reference from a previous landlord, stating that payment was timely and that you are a trustworthy tenant
- Reference from an employer, confirming both your employment and character
- Reference from a friend or colleague confirming your character.
If you are renting through an agency, please note that nowadays, many of them use dedicated referencing companies to check potential tenant’s references. In this case, you will only need to provide names and contact details of your referees. You will save time, but this procedure comes with a price tag of around £200.
Want to know more about how much does it cost to rent in London? Check our article The True Costs of Moving To and Living in London
If you’re studying, self-employed or earning little more than the rent, it may be necessary to have a guarantor for your property. This is a representative who will co-sign on the tenancy agreement. Your guarantor will be liable to pay rent if you fail to do so. The guarantor must provide similar documents, earn three times the rent, be in full-time employment and better if they own their own home. Not all landlords are this strict, but it's good for you to know what to expect.
You can find additional information on the official government website.
Do you wish to know more about renting a property in London? Read these articles:
- [Expats Guide to the NHS - Healthcare in the United Kingdom](Expats' Guide to the NHS - Healthcare in the United Kingdom)
- What to do before Renting your Property in London
- Moving Flat in London: A step-by-step Guide
- Saving Money: How to Change your Utility Company in London