How to Reference Your Lodger

Unfortunately, this is where many landlords get it wrong, even experienced ones, and consequently why many landlords end up having disputes with their lodgers, whether it be over financial reasons, or incompatibility issues. Finding the right lodger can be tricky, so it’s important to get it right.

Many landlords rely on their first impressions during a viewing by assessing the chemistry and compatibility, which can normally work out fine, but that isn’t always a very reliable technique. This is when more of a thorough referencing protocol can be more effective.

While there isn’t any legal obligation to reference a prospective lodger, it is right up there in importance. Remember, the person you invite into your home as your lodger will at times be left alone with all your personal possessions, so you need to ensure their trustworthy.

Referencing methods

While referencing a ‘lodger’ isn’t as crucial as referencing a ‘tenant’ (read the difference between ‘lodger’ and ‘tenant’ on the, what is a lodger page), as getting rid of a lodger is relatively easy in comparison, and that’s why so lodger landlords rely on their gut-instinct alone, the process should not be underestimated in value by any landlord. Thorough lodger referencing will help minimize risk of ending up with an insufficient lodger.

At the very least, every lodger landlord in England is legally obligated to ensure their lodger has the legal ‘right to rent’ in the UK (more covered in the ‘Proof of ID’ section below). However, needless to say, the more referencing you do, the better the chances of a hassle free landlord experience.

Referencing can include the following:

  • Previous landlord references – ask for contact details of previous landlords, and then talk to them to find out what the lodger was like.
  • Payslips – ask for 3 months worth of payslips to prove salary.
  • Proof of ID – it’s important to make sure the person you are talking to is the person they say they are. Not only for safety reasons, but also because from 1st of Feb 2016, the Government introduced the “Right to rent” legislation, which requires all landlords in England to check whether their lodger/tenant has a legal right to live in the UK. Failing to comply could lead to hefty fines.The easiest to be compliant is by checking your prospective lodgers passport and/or driving license and keeping a copy for your own records. For more details, go onto the Gov website, where you can see a list of all the accepted forms of ID.
  • Employment references – perhaps the most crucial aspect of referencing, as your lodger’s employment will determine if they can afford the rent. It’s always sensible to talk to the employer to confirm employment.
  • Credit Check – credit checking the prospective lodger is also a good idea. You can use websites like, or (basic check costs approx £15). These services will tell you if there are any outstanding CCJ’s, check credit score, and validate their identity.

Remember, it’s important not to accept the first person who comes along with the money, you should take your time and assess several applicants to find the best fit, as covered in the viewing and interviewing your lodger post.

Charging Lodgers ‘Referencing Fees’

Most landlords will cover the cost of referencing their lodger – there’s generally a cost associated with conducting credit checks.

However, it’s worth noting that since the ‘Tenant Fees Act 2019’ came into force on the 1st June 2019, it has been made unlawful for Landlords in England to charge lodgers for any costs associated with referencing/credit checks.

For more details, refer to the What Landlords Can & Can’t Charge Lodgers article.