According to a  study in 2022, published in 2024, approximately 35% of the UK’s population rent their home, and this number continues to rise every year. Nowadays, renting is fairly simple; however, there are some things to keep in mind if you’re looking to do so.

So, what documents do you need to rent an apartment in the UK? Well, there are certain documents you need to provide, with some being legally required. This is to show the landlord who you are, if you’re a suitable tenant, and if you can afford monthly payments.

Below we have highlighted some documentation you may be required to provide if you’re looking to rent.

Proof of identity & right to rent

By law, in the UK, landlords must perform checks to ensure a potential tenant has the right to rent. Right to rent documentation will need to show who you are, as well as proof of your current address. 


If you’re a UK resident, this can be as simple as showing your passport or driving licence. However, what if you’re not a UK citizen? Again, there are several documents you could show. This includes a visa that explicitly allows you to rent, a residence permit, or a passport with a valid UK visa.


If you’re unsure if your documentation will satisfy these requirements, check out the government’s full guide on right to rent documentation.


Income & employment status check

Next, you may need to show a landlord that you’re financially capable of renting. Some common ways a landlord can carry out those checks:

  • Open banking fast and secure way of checking your income via your bank
  • HMRC/Payroll integrate directly with the database to prove your income
  • Combination of employment contract and 3 months’ worth of payslips


If you wish to rent when self-employed, the following may be required:

  • Tax returns with proof of submission will show your income over a recent period. This is the only way the self-employed can pass 


Character & employment references

While they’re not always required, references can help paint your application in a better light. The two most common types are character and employment references. 


A character reference is typically a letter from a previous landlord that vouches for your eligibility as a tenant. It doesn’t always need to be a landlord, it could be a professional you’re associated with, such as a former boss.


Employment references are a very similar principle. You’ll be required to give your employer’s details to your landlord. From here, your landlord will contact them to verify the information you initially provided about your employment.


Remember, different letting agencies or landlords might have slightly varying requirements. It’s always best to check with them directly if anything is unclear.


Credit assessments

Some landlords in the UK may conduct credit checks to assess your financial history and ensure you can make payments. They typically only carry out soft checks, which don’t leave a footprint on your record. 


Soft searches will reveal information like if you’re registered on the electoral roll, if you’ve had a county court judgement (CCJ), or if you have declared bankruptcy. Landlords won’t be able to access details like your credit card limits, any loans you have, or any history of missed payments.


So, will a bad credit score automatically disqualify you? Not necessarily! Here’s how to navigate a credit check:

Be upfront, if you have concerns about your credit history, explain the situation honestly to the landlord or letting agent.

Keep in mind that credit checks are just one piece of the puzzle. By showcasing your financial stability through proof of income and responsible character references, you can still make a positive impression!


What is a guarantor?

If you don’t meet a landlord’s or letting agent’s criteria, you may need to use a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who will be liable to pay your rent if you’re unable to make payments.


For many people a guarantor is typically a family member like a parent, or it could be a close relative. A guarantor will need to sign a Guarantor Agreement this is a crucial legal document that outlines their responsibilities. It will state when they are liable for payments for example, if you miss the rent or if there is property damage.


Similar to what you need to prove, your guarantor will need to provide all or some of the following:

  • Must be a UK homeowner
  • Proof of identify and address
  • Proof of income and financial stability
  • Credit checks