Rental background checks: What documents are required from expats moving to London?
London has evolved into a city of renters: by 2025, around 60% of its population will rent their home – approximately 5.5 million people. If you plan on entering this competitive market, you must become familiar with the rules and regulations that stand between you and your ideal rented home – not least the requirements for background checks.
This comprehensive screening process has landlords, tenants, and wider society’s best interests at heart. It allows landlords to protect their investments, maintain a safe and peaceful living environment for all tenants, and reduce financial and legal risks associated with renting property – all you need to do is provide the correct documents.
Right to rent checks
Letting agents and landlords in England are required by law to check that all tenants over the age of 18 who occupy their properties have legal status to live in the UK. This Right to Rent check – introduced by the Home Office to make it harder for people to live and work in England illegally – requires them to undertake ID checks prior to letting out the property.
Acceptable ID documents for a physical Right to Rent check fall into three categories: List A, List A Group 2, and List B.
Some landlords outsource the ID verification element of Right to Rent checks to certified Identity Verification Service Providers (IDSPs).
If you’re an expat with Home Office immigration status, you can obtain a share code and provide it to the landlord. They will cross-check this information with the Home Office’s system to generate your Right to Rent decision – meaning you won’t need to provide any further documentation.
Proof of employment and income
Steady employment and a reliable source of income are essential requirements for renting the world over – and London is no exception. Expats are typically requested to provide documents such as employment contracts, pay slips, or letters from their employers confirming their job status and income. Some landlords may demand that your income is at least two or three times the monthly rent to ensure you can meet this financial obligation.
Landlords typically request several months of bank statements to confirm that you can cover the rent and associated expenses. This also allows them to assess your overall financial stability and responsibility. So, be prepared to share your current account and savings statements, highlighting a healthy balance and consistent income deposits.
Previous rental history
Be prepared to provide details of your previous rental experiences – both in the UK and abroad. This might include rental agreements, proof of rent payments, and letters of recommendation from previous landlords.
Don’t let rental background checks hold you back. Streamline the rental process and increase your chances of securing the perfect property by preparing the required documents in advance. Remember, each landlord or letting agent may have slightly different requirements, so be flexible and responsive during the application process. With the right paperwork and a proactive approach, your transition to London will be smooth and hassle-free.