Tenant referencing is the process that checks an applicant's suitability for a property. At SJM Properties, this check is performed through Rightmove and generally takes up to 72 hours (about 3 days) to complete.

Referencing begins with a soft credit check; this is an inquiry into the prospective tenant's financial history. A soft credit check does not leave a mark on credit scores and provides a basic overview of any past and present credit commitments and details of their repayment history (thus including any missed or late payments). Adverse credit history within the last 6 years such as County Court Judgements, bankruptcies or Individual Voluntary Agreements would also be visible on this check, which would almost certainly affect eligibility for obtaining a new rental agreement.

Following this, employment and income would need to be verified by pay slips/bank statements and the applicant's employer or line manager. In order to pass an affordability check, the tenant's earnings would need to be a minimum of 2.5x the annual rent, for example if the rent were £1,000pm (i.e. £12,000 per year), the applicant’s earnings would need to exceed £30,000 per year to meet the criteria.

If applicable the referencing company would also obtain information from the applicant's previous landlord or managing agent by way of establishing character. Questions such as, did the tenants maintain the property, did they always pay rent on time, were there any problems during their tenancy, could be asked.

In some ways, referencing could be seen as the most crucial part of the rental process as not only does it provide reassurances and security for the landlord but also in principle ensures long term affordability for the tenant.