Rentguard Referencing - tenants upset and no longer want to rent flat

I would appreciate advice as I’m new to renting out my flat and Openrent.

I put my flat up for rent and two potential tenants were very keen saying how much they wanted to rent it and wanted to move asap because they were not getting on with existing housemates which was great for me as the flat is unoccupied.

I paid the £40 for the reference checks with Rentguard. One passed but the other was declined because of insufficient income. Rentguard suggested using a guarantor which I suggested to tenant but they do not have anyone in the UK who can act as a guarantor - they are from Europe. They said to me that their joint income covers enough for the rental according to rent affordability calculators online - and having looked myself I can see that this is correct.
After they failed the check, I was contacting insurance companies to see if I was still able to get rent guarantee insurance and they said I would need an employer and landlord reference so I decided that I would proceed with their application if they were able to provide me with their employers and landlord reference.

I contacted Rentguard this morning and asked them for the documentation, and followed up by calling Openrent this afternoon, but have not yet received it.

This afternoon the tenants have sent me a message to say that they do not feel comfortable anymore with how openrent and rentguard have handled the situation and their personal information. They feel its unreasonable to have been declined because their joint income is sufficient. As a result they are saying that they no longer want to rent the flat. I wrote back to the tenants and suggested speaking on the phone to try to resolve it as I’m happy to rent the flat to them if I get the documentation but they have not responded.

I am also frustrated having paid the £40 for the reference checks and now had the flat off the market for over a week and it is looking like I will have to start the process all over again.

Thanks for your help

welcome to our world. Start again .It is all tax deductable, is our only comfort

Thanks Colin - hmm, the joys of a tax return too!

I would be interested to know others experience of using Rentguard and if tenants fail on insufficient salary. I found it strange that they don’t take the joint income of the tenants into account although when I asked them they said even if they did it would still be too low - which seemed to disagree with rent affordability online calculators. Are Rentguard very cautious?

i have used Experion to check. You have to weigh up the monthly rent and the monthly salary. Then what if one wants to leave ? It can be a minefield.!

If they are not responding it’s a sign that they can’t provide the paperwork
Don’t chase them
Move on
If tenants don’t provide paperwork it’s a red flag
Consider yourself lucky


Join the NRLA. You get telephone advice from experienced staff .The fee is tax deductable.


I agree with Colin. Join the NRLA and undertake their foundation training.

You can’t necessarily take what the tenants are saying at face value. Being in a hurry to move, failing credit check, not being comfortable about the referencing process. These are all bad signs and I think you may have had a lucky escape.


Thanks @Colin3 @David122 @A_A . I will look at NRLA.

They have provided all the documents and passed credit checks - Rentguard have now sent me all the docs. It’s just that one of them doesn’t earn enough so has been declined because of low income. It suggested asking for a guarantor but she can’t provide one.

As it was just the one thing they failed on, I was going to give the benefit of the doubt - but now they are saying that we should both ‘move on’. Would you accept tenants if everything had passed apart from the income? She is paying similar amount of rent now and has a previous landlord reference saying she paid her rent.

When you are with the tenant you make a judgement call. It’s a gut feeling.
I had Romanians last week and I had a gut feeling something dodgy was in the works. I reminded them if there was illegal sublets that were brought in later we would have to call the police and immigration.
I never heard back .
When one door closes another opens…

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Being able to afford the rent is probably the most critical thing for a tenant. Guarantor agreements are difficult to get right and to enforce and not really a solution if the tenant isn’t earning enough. I would just let them go and find tenants who can afford it.

@New_To_This If the tenant fails the reference or a credit check, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are bad tenants.
as @Colin3 mention, you should weigh up salary and monthly rent… Experian is definitely more liable then Rentguard…
Rentguard has a very low reputation excessive low reviews for that reason I would not use their services…
Is the income is a significant low? I don’t think that because a person earns up to less than -3% of the desired income they will stop paying rent. If that is the only reason I would overlook it because any tenant can enter into a contract with a great salary and months later lose their job and have low income and honestly you will be at risk of having problems anyway. I would concentrate on a landlord reference.

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I wouldn’t persist with these tenants for the reasons mentioned above, but if it happens again then you could ask for six months’ rent up front.

I should start by saying I am now in the process of leaving the industry after 25 years odd. Had enough! The disincentive to continue for me has been the ever-widening range of ransoms that the tenant can now put you under - being often advised legally for free and then encouraged to do so by authorities, not least the council.
God willing, my very last UK rental completes Friday 26th Feb. Wish me luck!

Having declared a potential conflict of disinterest, here is one seasoned suggestion you may wish to consider from an old timer. It will end up more than one. I just know it.

In any event, please do check for yourself that you conform to the most current legislation. It continues to change rapidly and I may be out of touch because I don’t update myself as regularly as when I had multiple live AST’s. If any other landlord/Open Rent bod sees issue here, let me know and I will immediately amend or delete. Call that a disclaimer.
Check the score for yourself always. Most particularly, when your single source is a forum. NRLA is worth joining for the advice (not least the insurance offered against cost of a tax investigation.) You may also be reading this months after it was written. I am not as sharp as I used to be!

  1. Make it clear from the outset that should an interested party wish to proceed formally, the property will continue to be advertised but will be amended to clearly indicate that it is ‘rented pending reference outcome’ and that, while enquiries may still be taken (names and contact details taken), no further viewings are possible pending outcome of said applicant’s references.

I didn’t write that in a very clear way, perhaps, but I can’t be bothered to amend!

In a nutshell, continue to advertise where others’ details can be taken but do not allow further viewings. This, for the reassurance of the applicants. You could allow further viewings, of course but that might put too many applicants off and it doesn’t ‘feel’ right or fair, me thinks. On the other hand, if you are suitably persuasive that they are first in line, maybe you can get away with it.
Either way, don’t behave dishonestly i.e. Best not to conduct sneaky viewings when you said you wouldn’t; you could get caught out!

  1. Confirm all conditions discussed in writing to them, showing that all parties have agreed and that they have first refusal should two applicants be similarly suitable.
    Re-read that last sentence.
    You have NOT held yourself to ransom if you choose your words carefully. ‘Similarly suitable’ is YOUR call. If, during the process, you have your doubts, they become less suitable. Your ‘gut’ or first impression is more valuable than you might think. Use it discreetly and act on your vibes.
    And all in writing; always in writing: always signed & dated. Copies to each.

My formal, professional approach has, over many years now, palpably reassured the genuine, intelligent applicant (I asked: they told me) just as it has intimidated and frightened off the shallow and the trivial time wasters and dreamers.
It always suited me just fine. It’s called vetting.

For me, it started with my advert. If they wished to view, I required email, mobile and current address, which I always did my best to somehow verify. If they didn’t want to give their address, why would I give mine? I always called 1 hour prior to confirm their wish to still turn up having previously asked them to let me know if they changed their mind. Genuine applicants/decent people didn’t seem to have issue with this. Those that kicked up would never be my type of tenant.
And so, they gave themselves an early exit. An all round time saver.

It also must have greatly minimised nosey neighbour syndrome and would-be distraction burglars in the case of currently tenanted properties. Think on your feet! If you were a burglar, how would you gain easy access to the unwitting and their valuables?
My tenants, I am hoping, always had personal reassurance that new viewers were vetted including address verification wherever possible. I also accompanied ALL viewings and all viewers stayed together, room to room. Whilst my property, it was their home. And, indeed, their personal property within it. I had the greatest of respect for this and never forgot to show it.

As I leave this industry, I would give one piece of advice above all else. Think on your feet, be cynical, explore, discreetly and thoroughly consider worst case scenario in order to minimise or avoid.

  1. Encourage the taking of a ‘holding fee.’ DON’T ever refer to it as a ‘deposit’ since a securing or holding fee does not need to be lodged per se and calling it a deposit can create unnecessary animosity where a tenant may, wrongly, feel they subsequently have a claim against you.

This secures the property in their name -subject to satisfactory refs and with a mutually agreed AST start-by-latest-date and with a fully itemised receipt indicating all of the above and circumstances in which their holding fee both
is/isn’t returnable. This needs to be all-party signed, in each other’s company. If they don’t like this idea, fine but you should then consider your investment to pay for their refs (an outrageous change in the law, in my view and last straw for me, pretty much) a much riskier venture. Without a holding fee, you encourage flippancy. How many other landlords might they be causing to spend to get their refs simultaneously?

Specifying a mutually agreeable move in or ‘move in by… latest’ date subject to ‘refs satisfactory to the landlord’ is vital.
That’s an absolutely crucial phrase, by the way; the ref agency advises but it is YOU that decides. If they pass but you don’t like them, DO NOT contract with them. For me, the holding fee issue has always helped to separate the wheat from the wasters. Money talks.

An agreed 'move in by… latest ’ date, subject to satisfactory refs., is very important in order that you don’t get endlessly messed about with shifting sands, without recompense. (And by that I mean the ability to lose them their deposit.)
“We still want to move in but it will be another two weeks or so.” isn’t on, really…
unless they will pay the rent from the original date, of course, or you are happy to negotiate. If they pay half, they are serious enough.

You are a business. Not a poorly managed charity-for-all-or-any.

This way, you keep control in an environment which evermore looks like you just have to roll over.
Changing their minds having agreed to the above is a good reason to consider keeping their holding fee. For being pi**ed about, basically.
It happens. Many applicants keep looking pending refs. It has never been acceptable to me that people say ‘We don’t want your place now.’
Of course, the excuses are usually more grandiose than that. Often health related to pull the strings. Having expressed your sympathies just incase it’s actually the truth, no matter.
It’s in writing. Its your call.
Where I have felt messed about or in any way lied to, they always forfeited the holding fee. I doubt they messed the next landlord about should they be similarly cautious. And transparent.
The way I played it, I retained the ability to exercise discretion and either return or retain their holding fee.
This strategy also firms up intent from the outset. A fly by night mess you about multi applicant would run a mile.

  1. A slight aside, in my view and experience having OpenRent do everything including taking deposit, AST., creates potential for issues where none existed. I used OR as a simple advertising portal for applicants, found their referencing service to be efficient but didn’t ever fancy the constraints of their deposit taking and my AST is much more comprehensive.
    It also introduces a third party who can muscle in as they see fit.
    This would never work for me.

Take care about over-delegating. (No disrespect intended, OpenRent.)

Good luck, whatever!



Dont take this as an insult but that is where good old fashioned common sense wins over our brave new online world of online credit checks and rent calculators. Rely on your own instincts; ask the employer for a housing reference to include length of contract and salary range after obtaining the tenants consent. Try and get them to confirm their address history. Former landlord references athough useful can also be a waste of time if dare I say it the person providing it was dishonest. And remember a person can be high earner and a high spender if they have acquired bad habits so ‘tis not loads a dosh that maketh a good tenant’ (but it does help)


Bank statements over several months are a really good way of looking at a tenants fiscal responsibility and will highlight online gambling, drinking etc


In that case they will not want to show the bank statements > This will tell us a tale also if they refuse to show them.


I would say you have had a lucky escape, anyone who is not compliant to rules, checks or investigations into their eligibility is suspect in my mind. It has to be an open book on all applicants, this builds not only knowledge of eligibility but also trust.

Tighten up your renting criteria - have pre qualification questions which must have replies from all applications to narrow the gaps on those who actually qualify.

Also, if they have moved out due to issues with friends or partners, are they still on the AST and have legal responsibilities?
It always best to have a guarantor who has their own property or who has the funds to cover both their own and the person’s rent they are offering to be a guarantor for.

The flip site of this is once they are in and one gets laid off, the problems commence - expensive ones.


Hi landlords, I was hoping whether you could point me in the right direction about this matter:

I’m looking to rent a 1 bed property that is just shy of my affordability ratio (however I could still very comfortably afford it due to savings and I’m just not a money-wasting/wreckless type of person). But nonetheless, I need a guarantor.

I’m a Government Statistician, and my husband will be also joining me as a Government Statistician in a few months after he passed Security Checks (takes 4 months). So in a few months time we should have a very healthy annual income of over 60k.

However, since I need a guarantor for the time being, I wanted to ask, are we allowed to have guarantors that are self employed but are receiving grants from the government during Covid because their business had to be closed due to lockdown?

The guarantor (my father-in-law) is a restaurant owner in central London, and a landlord. But, because restaurants have to remain closed, his income is made up of rental payments and grants from the government.

Would this cause him to fail being a guarantor?

Also, since it isn’t long till my husband starts working too, do I have to have a guarantor?

And do we need a guarantor if my husband is in the probationary period of employment? Or is it enough that we both have permanent jobs and financial stability?

Would really appreciate your answers as landlords! Thank you!

Kindest regards,


Guarantors depend on your Landlord

I would get confirmation of your husband’s employment in writing
I would always take a Guarantor no matter what, again that’s a personal choice
You may be asked to pay a few months rent upfront as a goodwill gesture ( but wait to be asked don’t offer it upfront)
Are you renting at the moment? Can you provide a Landlord reference?

I normally ask for evidence of equity ( eg home or mortgage in addition to salary ) in addition to salary.
You look like a healthy prospect
Good luck

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Thank you! That was really helpful to know!

Kindest regards,
Dina :slight_smile: