First time landlord- referencing

I’m a first time landlord using Open Rent to find my tenants. We’ve recently done a round of viewings and in hind sight there were certain questions I should have perhaps asked. We used the screening function when messaging and asked my own screening checks.

We have a number of interested people, are there questions or references I can ask for before doing the full referencing through Open Rent? I.e employment contract, proof of income etc. And what is a reasonable income to rent ratio.

Hello, im not a landlord im a tenant searching for property. But yes, alot of letting agents have asked me or have stated quite clearly i need to be earning a certain amount (5x sometimes more, sometimes less) more than the rent price. Because of my income i work part time, i do not meet the criteria. Im usually then asked if i have a guarantor whos a home owner or earns a certain amount PA (my last one wanted 52k per year and 6 months rent upfront). Ofcourse in my situation, i could not provide 6 months rent up front and i do not know anyone earning that much a year. So to answer your question regarding the london income, yes. It seems to be standard these days and in my case makes it very very hard to find anywhere in the place i was born and raised.

I hope this is of any use to you. I hope you have good luck finding tenants which suit you.

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Thanks for your reply. I’m not actually asking people for 5 x the rent as I think it’s a bit crazy and was wondering if landlords were lowering the ratio in London due to higher rents, but I guess not. I’ve heard from others that agents are asking for this or 6 months up front too, also something we won’t be asking of our tenants. But I have no idea what a reasonable income to rent ratio is to feel secure.

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Unfortunately i can not help you with that. That decision would have to be entirely upto you. You would also need to consider if you want tenants who are in full time employment who will solely pay you from their income or if you would be willing to accept tenants who claim housing benefit help. Like i said i am not a landlord, and i cant speak on behalf of all tenants either. I claim HB which is also another obstacle with my property searches. You would need to consider the tenant’s monthly income then factor in any bills when calculating what you believe would ensure your rent to be paid on time and in full, every time. Again, im not a landlord and have no experience or knowledge in how you would do things. London rent prices are through the roof and i would say mostly ridiculous for what ive seen advertised e.g £1200 for a bed sit. I think its insane but clearly theres people out there willing to pay this and who probably can afford to. If you’re able to maybe seek advice from a solicitor or someone.

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I have a list of 20 screening questions which are automatically emailed to anyone who enquires.

They need to answer these before I will even consider a viewing.

The serious ones do answer.

Consider joining NRLA.

Remember DSS is certainly higher risk. Housing benefit is typically paid direct to tenant.

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Mark, I am an absolute newbie. Would you share your screening questions with me?

If you intend to put forward a prospective tenant for referencing. You should find out what criteria the referencing agency use and use the same criteria for your pre-referencing questionnaire. Most use an income multiplier of an annual salary of 30 times the monthly rent (this may be different in London) so an individual really needs to be a professional on a decent salary. A couple with a joint income will find it easier to meet the affordability criteria so this may influence your decision on who to put forward.

The first question to ask is for their immigration status for the Right To Rent check. UK and Irish passport holders have an automatic right. Other nationals will need other documentation from the UK Border Force.
Employment details and contract type i.e. permanent, fixed term, part-time etc.
Bank statement showing current address and salary.
Utility bill showing current address
Ask if they have any adverse credit history going back 6 years.

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Never heard 5x rent. Usually 3.5 x rent. You can create your own list of pre qualifying questions. Don’t rely on the referencing for info. U can ask to see bank statements, contact prev landlord etc. You have to do the right to rent I believe. Also view original ID’s documentation.
I am
More cautious nowadays and demand proof.

I did join NRLA but haven’t had chance to explore all its services. Do they have a template for screening questions?
As you know, I am a newbie too!

Just look on NRLA site under Resources.

Just did, found a lots of forms but didn’t really find any pre-screening questions. What am I missing here? Thanks.

It is the Tenancy Application Form, listed under Resources tab


Don’t you have to have some sort of clearance to handle personal information such as this? I could be wrong but i’m sure i read somewhere you have to pay i think around £30-50 and apply for some sort of certificate which means you can handle tenant personal info such as bank details salary employer etc etc.
Please correct me if i am wrong.

Yes, you need to pay a yearly subscription £35/40 to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and follow the guidelines for processing a person’s personal data.


In practice all landlords need to register with the ICO and issue the tenant a copy of their GDPR privacy notice at the earliest opportunity.


Hi Mark
Could you please share the 20 screening questions?

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