I recently moved to England, UK, and this morning I applied for a reference check (paying an exorbitant referencing fee). Soon thereafter, a tenant referencing company contacted me stating that they “are having problems locating you at your current address for the purpose of obtaining a credit score”. I am not surprised, for I have been in the United Kingdom for less than three weeks and have had a bank account for less than one week, with so far zero activity on my bank account. I do have an employment contract for the next four years, and sufficient savings to pay rent a full year in advance if necessary.

Should I expect to be able to sign a tenancy with zero credit history?

  • Current status is that they are doing an international credit check using my most recent foreign address (in Canada).
    – gerrit
    May 26, 2015 at 18:23

2 Answers 2


There are two catch 22s when trying to rent in the UK as an expat. The first is that you often need an address to get a bank account and a bank account to get an address. The second is that you need an address to get a credit history (technically, I believe you need to attempt to register to vote at the address) and you need a credit history to get an address.

While a contract is handy, you should be able to ask the HR department to write a reference letter that states the terms of your contract (duration, salary, and pay period). That letter, a longer lease period (e.g., 12 months instead of the typical 6 months) and paying the entire rent and security deposit up front, should be enough for many landlords (London may be different). When I moved over, the letter was enough. I believe some estate agents have a monetary incentive (either direct or indirect) to run credit checks. They tell the landlords that one of their services is screening the credit of potential tenets. Once the credit check is run, must landlords are happy with the reference letter.

I would suggest that when you first contact an estate agent that you tell them your situation up front. Tell them you are only interested in places that will accept you without a credit history (they will still likely make you pay the fee).

  • You certainly don't need to attempt to register to vote. Citizens of countries outside the EU (possibly EFTA) and the Commonwealth can't! Mar 5, 2019 at 15:49

My letting agent ran an international credit check (or rather they asked another company to do this) based on my previous address in Canada (which I had to list as “current address”). They also asked my previous landlord for evidence that I had no outstanding debts and had been a good tenant. Together with the job contract and other documentation, this was sufficient for me to sign the contract, although one might want to push the old landlord to respond fast for letting agent and credit check bureau are not particularly patient. My wife in The North (of England) had an even smoother experience to get past the letting agent requirements.

  • So did you need to pay the entire year up front?
    – Calmarius
    Nov 23, 2017 at 16:09
  • @Calmarius No, I didn't. I paid the usual fees and 1½ month rent in deposit (so I paid 2½ month rent + fees).
    – gerrit
    Nov 23, 2017 at 19:56

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