Which Credit Report Information Can Landlords See

Posted by Kevin Pearce in Personal Finance on 7 March 2017 - Kevin is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

Whenever you rent a property, you will be required to pass some checks set by the landlord or letting agent to prove that you will be a good tenant and that you’ll be able to afford to rent the property.

Among affordability checks and getting references from previous landlords, your credit file is checked, which at first glance can make people worry about their previous credit history and how it might affect their chances.

What type of search is carried out?

Letting agents and landlords carry out a ‘soft-search’ during your application, which only looks at information on your credit file that’s publically available. These are different to the searches carried out by lenders, which focus more on money that you’ve borrowed and repaid.

Primarily landlords are only looking for verification that you are who you say you are, along with any court information that might be related to you having missed past payments, all of which is available with a soft search.

These days most landlords will carry out a credit search during the application process, but it does require your permission to be given beforehand, so if you haven’t consented to one it cannot take place.

What is included in a landlord credit check?

Court information is searched to make sure that there isn’t a CCJ in your name as a result of a substantial history of missed payments in the past. Because only a soft search is carried out, that means defaults themselves will not appear in this credit search.

Your electoral roll status is also checked to make sure the address you’ve provided is the one you’re actually living at, so it’s important to make sure that you’re registered to vote and that it’s actually recorded correctly on your credit report.

Any issues can be resolved by contacting your local council for Electoral Roll issues, and the named court if there are any incorrect court records. It’s much easier to resolve issues before you apply, rather than having them point out errors that you then desperately need to try to resolve before your rental application expires.

So essentially, if you are showing on the Electoral Roll at the address you have provided to them as your current address and you do not have any County Court Judgments (CCJ) or Insolvencies, you’re a step closer to obtaining your new rental property.

Can you rent a property with bad credit?

Yes. Occasional missed payments or a lack of credit history won’t appear on the landlord’s search, so unless you’ve got a CCJ, IVA or Bankruptcy appearing on your court information on your credit file, you shouldn’t be held back by it during the credit check.

If you do have adverse court information on your credit report, it still might not stop you from being able to rent – many places will accept a larger deposit or guarantor co-signer upon application. However, if considering using a guarantor this can affect their ability to get credit in the future, so make sure they are prepared before agreeing to anything.

How are tenancy credit checks carried out?

The credit checks can be performed with Experian, Callcredit and Equifax, three completely independent credit reference agencies. This can cause an issue if you do not know which of the agencies your letting agent or landlord will decide to use, because the information held by each agency can differ. Any errors or omissions could therefore really affect your chances of being accepted. Checkmyfile's credit reports get data from all the UK's main credit reference agencies, so you can check the information that landlords will see, whichever agency they use.

A quick check of your credit report will show if any of the agencies hold a record of your Electoral Roll listing and whether there are any discrepancies within court data. It is vital that you check for yourself with all agencies before making any application to rent as, if you don’t, there could be a nasty surprise waiting for you.

Additional checks carried out

As your landlord doesn’t have access to your full credit report, they have to gauge your affordability using additional checks. They will require proof of income and may contact your employer to make sure you’re paid enough to cover rent payments – usually it is required that your combined annual income (if renting in a group) comes to at least three times the annual rent.

A former landlord may also be contacted to make sure that rent was paid on time to establish whether you are a high, medium or low risk. In some instances, they may even ask how much of your previous deposit was repaid to get a feel for how well you managed to look after previous properties.

As long as you are prepared prior to your application, have resolved any outstanding issues and been honest with the details you provide to them, then you have done all that you can to optimise your chances. You then just need to wait for their decision and hope that your future plans can proceed without delay.

Even though your landlord can only see basic information on your credit report, if it’s incorrect or wrong, it can cause you unneeded hassle while house-hunting. If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile FREE for 30 days, then £14.99 a month, which you can cancel at any time. Not only will your report show you if there are any errors being reported by the credit reference agencies, but you our professionally-qualified Credit Analysts will help resolve any issues you might have.

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