Article by Jamie Mackenzie Smith - 20th December 2019

Can I Rent With Bad Credit?

The outcome of the credit checks carried out by landlords or letting agents is a pivotal moment in the application process when you go to rent a property, but the actual information they will be looking at is probably a lot less daunting than you might expect.

If you’re not used to having credit checks carried out on you, you might not be aware that a check isn’t an exposé of your finances, allowing prospective landlords to see how much you’ve got in your account or how much you’ve spent in the last few months. From that point of view, you don’t need to worry and as long as you pass their affordability and reference checks, your personal finances won’t factor into the credit check at all.

As covered in our earlier article Which Credit Report Information Can Landlords See?, identity verification and court information are the two most important things on your Credit Report as far as landlords are concerned when you’re applying to rent.

To see what landlords will see on their reference check, you can try checkmyfile free for 30 days and then for £14.99 per month, which you can cancel whenever you like. You'll get full access to the UK's most detailed Credit Report, plus professional support from our UK based Credit Analysts if you need it.

How Will Missed Payments Affect my application?

Missed or late payments, as well as more serious arrears or defaults, will not appear on the ‘public’ version of your Credit Report that landlords are able to see. This more ‘in-depth’ information will be visible on your full Credit Report, so might prevent you from taking out a loan or other form of credit, but should not have a bearing on your ability to rent.

The only exception to this is if you are signed up to a Rent Reporting scheme and you have accumulated these negative payment markers by missing rent payments, in which case landlords may be able to see this information using one of the dedicated Rent Reporting platforms.

Most Rent Reporting systems work on the basis that your rental information will be reported to Credit Reference Agencies by landlords on the agreement that the same information is visible to future prospective lenders, similar to the Principles of Reciprocity adhered to by lenders. That means any negative payment history may affect your chances of being taken on as a tenant.

Will I pass a credit check for renting?

Even if you’re confident that there is no court information lodged against you, because there are other factors such as references involved, it’s not possible to guarantee you’ll be accepted. By checking the information they’ll be assessing for yourself beforehand, you can give yourself the best chance of passing a credit check.

Ensuring that your name and address (including any previous ones) appear on your Credit Report correctly and in a consistent format will make it a lot easier for the landlord to find and assess the information they need. Landlords won’t want to see any ‘gaps’ in your address history (in case there is negative information lurking there) and although most of it should be linked automatically, it pays to be vigilant. Consistency is the key, especially if you’ve lived at addresses in the past that sometimes appear in slightly different formats – flats for example.

As always, being listed on the most recent version of the Electoral Roll at your current address will be beneficial to your application, much like it is to lenders. The main reason for this is that it demonstrates ‘stability’, which can be particularly useful to landlords as an indicator that you’re likely to want to remain in the property for an extended period.

Will a CCJ stop me renting?

If you have an active CCJ, this may be one of the few instances where a history of bad credit can hinder your application. Unlike arrears and missed payments, Court Records (including CCJs and insolvencies) will appear on your public information, so you could be turned down for your application by having this on your Credit Report.

If you’ve had a CCJ in the past, but more than six years have passed since it was issued, it should no longer appear on your Credit Report, and as such a landlord won’t be able to decline your application on that basis. Insolvencies like bankruptcies and IVAs work in a similar manner – if it’s been more than six years since the date of issue and you have been discharged, an insolvency shouldn’t show either.

In all cases, it comes down to the risk appetite of the person letting the property as to whether or not you’ll be accepted. Some will be OK with you having court information recorded against you, or may ask for a bigger deposit whilst others may want nothing to do with it. You may find that private landlords might be more willing to listen to your case than a letting agency as well.

How can I rent if I have severe negative information on my Credit Report?

The presence of CCJs or a bankruptcy on your Credit Report will almost certainly reduce the pool of landlords willing to take you on as a tenant, but there are still a number of landlords that will happily oblige provided you can do one or more of the following:

Use a guarantor

If for whatever reason you do not pass the credit check, you may be given the option to use a guarantor to vouch for you, and if it comes to it, make any rent payments on your behalf if you come up short.

Acting as a guarantor can affect someone’s affordability and reduce their chances of being accepted for credit themselves for the duration, so it is crucial to think carefully before committing.

Offer a bigger deposit/rent upfront

For many rental properties, a deposit equal to a single month’s rent is standard practice, but offering to pay a bigger deposit, or even several months’ rent in advance should help put the landlord’s mind at ease if they have any reservations about you being able to make payments.

Get a written reference/endorsement from a previous landlord

References often form a standard part of the application process, but a glowing written endorsement from your current or previous landlord should act as good proof that you can be trusted to pay rent on time, and what you’re like as a tenant.

Some applications may also ask what percentage of the deposit you got back from your previous letting – this gives them an indication of whether extensive cleaning or repair work was required following you moving out.

Most importantly, before you apply to rent anywhere, you should check your Credit Report. You may find that there’s nothing to worry about, but it’s well worth checking that all of your information is correct and what a prospective landlord will want to see.

If you haven’t already, you can try checkmyfile free for 30 days, then for just £14.99 a month, which you can cancel anytime. You’ll get complete access to the UK’s most detailed Credit Report, with information from four Credit Reference Agencies, not just one.

Updated on 20/12/2019 by Sam Griffin

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