What is a real tenant reference?

There’s more choice than ever when it comes to referencing tenants…but do you know exactly what you’re paying for? Let us break it down for you.

Credit checks

Most tenant references will involve a credit check highlighting any adverse credit such as CCJs or IVAs. This gives an indication as to whether the applicant has been consistent in paying their bills and debts reliably and on time.

But what else?

A credit check, or Insight reference with Rentshield Direct also includes checks of the following:

  • Undisclosed addresses – any addresses that the applicant has resided at but failed to tell us about. This check can uncover any adverse credit that they may not have been upfront about and is an indication of the applicant’s honesty and integrity
  • Bank account validation – when provided, we’ll check that the applicant’s bank details are for a genuine, UK account
  • Rentshield Direct Default Database – indicates if a rent guarantee claim has been made against the applicant in the past and if we are still pursuing them for unpaid rent
  • Voters roll – confirming if the applicant lives where they say they do
  • Application consistency cross-check – alerts us if the tenant has submitted multiple applications

We confirm ALL of the above information as part of our INSIGHT reference – and you’ll receive an instant report.

Financial and landlord references

Credit and address history can tell you a lot about a person – but it doesn’t actually tell you if the tenant can afford the rent for the duration of the tenancy…only obtaining a financial reference and verifying the income can do that.

There are platforms out there that will fully automate this for you, and rely on technology to complete the reference. But that’s not how we do things, we believe that the human touch can’t be beaten – after all, no two tenants are the same.

Our highly trained Referencing Team do things that a computer can’t, such as:

  • Pick up the phone and chase referees, and complete references when they have them on the phone
  • Verify that the employer’s details provided are for a genuine company, using Companies House and other online sources
  • Check that the email address and phone numbers provided are really for the employer. Our staff are trained to identify false domains used to imitate legitimate businesses, and we’ll never take an employment reference from a mobile number or from a generic email address such as Hotmail or Gmail
  • Where bank statements and payslips are provided as evidence, our staff follow a 27-point checklist to identify fraud indicators, protecting you from being caught out by clever scams
  • We look at the full picture, we’ll look at tax returns for self-employed applicants, pension award letters, benefits and Universal Credit, child maintenance, savings and a whole host of other income sources – but we don’t just take the applicant’s word for it, we obtain and assess evidence for any income the tenant will be relying on to pay their rent
  • We cross-reference IP addresses to make sure that the employer/landlord reference doesn’t come from the same place as the applicant, reducing the risk of phony referees
Fraud – we know what we’re looking for

Not only is fraud becoming a more common occurrence in the tenancy application process, fraudsters are becoming more creative and trickier to detect. That’s why our skilled team are experienced in picking up subtle fraud indicators on documents.

As fraudsters generate new tactics and techniques over time, we continually train and develop our team to make sure they stay ahead of the curve.

Here’s just one example…

is this a genuine UK bank statement? If not, what brings you to that conclusion?

Although to most of us this looks pretty convincing, our referencing executives are able to detect very quickly when assessing income that this is not valid. A few key indicators on this example are…



  • Spelling mistakes
  • Poor grammar
  • Numbers that don’t add up

We analyse every document that passes through our system. When something doesn’t look right to our referencing team, we raise it with our central suspicions department for further investigation and update our agents on what’s going on. Nothing is left to chance. On top of that, we’re linked to CIFAS – we cross reference applicants against the UK’s largest fraud database, indicating if they are registered on any of the Government’s asset freezing lists.

Your referencing options

Tenant Referencing