The Crazy system of References in England to get a new flat to rent or a new job.

Laura Bernardeschi
6 min readDec 5, 2021


England is a strange place to live if you arrive from Europe. Its rules are different and seem created to complicate the life of normal people.

One of the worst habits is based on references asked to get what you wish more to improve your life.

Here are some examples.

References to rent a flat or apply for a new job?

Once you apply for renting a house or a new job, you must remember that it is very important to have good references because you could lose the opportunity to have the job of your dreams or the house you like so much.

Even if you have good qualifications, previous good jobs on your cv. and experience,the new employer pretends a couple of references from the managers where you worked lately.

Sometimes this can be tricky.

If i am looking for a new job is may be because I had problems with my employers?

Maybe I am not going to work anymore in that place because I was receiving abuse, or sexual harassment, or just because I did not like it?

Sometimes your last employer can be frustrated because you left your job and he must hire a company and spend money to find a new person and can not be happy to do your reference?

I was lucky to get my last job in a big company in Newcastle because i had two different jobs in Bristol and a couple of managers of one of those jobs , wrote the references … but if a nasty supervisor of the other job was involved, probably she was taking the opportunity to have her revenge because I have reported her to a Union for unfair behavior and racism.

From this experience, i always advise having a couple of good friends in the managerial area ready to write your reference when you need it.

Even better if you have two different jobs so you can avoid problems and discussions.

The reference system to rent a house is even worse.

When you decide to rent a flat, England is like a marathon because you must run to view more than three flats a day to have the possibility to rent one …especially around cities with Universities the request is always very high.

For example, when I decided to live in Newcastle last November, the courses at the universities were already started and most of the flats available were taken.

Sometimes I was booking a view and in two hours the agency was canceling the appointment because it was already let agree.

‘Let agree’ means the landlord had accepted the offer of the future tenant .

Being a tenant in Uk is not easy even if the law has changed a bit .

Most of the landlords are arrogant and unfair.

I was living in Bristol for the last three years in a small studio and when I left two weeks ago, the landlord kept half of my deposit ( £450 ) because he had to clean the carpet, paint the wall and clean the kitchen.

This is absolutely ridiculous and arrogant because after three years he had to paint anyway the wall of the house and clean the carpet. Moreover, this couple of nasty people ( husband and wife ) obliged their tenants to live in the mess of continuous works in the exterior and interior of the old building …just a greedy, uneducated, and unfair couple taking advantage of their tenants.

I could appeal through the deposit scheme but being so annoyed by the system and the life in Bristol, I decided to leave my money in their hands the way, I am sure karma will arrive soon to them.

In Newcastle, the rent is a bit cheaper than in the south even if they start to rise because many people are coming to live in the north being less populated and a better style of life.

To find this flat, I did my research on three websites very famous in England called Zoopla , Rightmove, and Openrent.

In Zoopla and Rightmove the professional agencies are doing their work …instead , on Openrent most of the time, you deal directly with the landlord.

But remember,if you deal with a landlord on openrent check if he has been verified to avoid scams who take your money and disappear.

Once i found the flat to rent for a couple of fo months, the landlord went through the process of openrent and the references process started immediately.

As soon as I received a mail from a company based in Kent called Rentguard, asking for personal documents through email.

I started to be suspicious because Openrent had not explained that there was this Rentguard behind to ask for documents to verify my status.

On the websites, there are just a few pieces of information and you must press a few choices to move around.

It is not a friendly website for people who are not experts in technology and do not have proper knowledge of English even if lots of people renting flats in the Uk are foreigners.

By the way , Rentguard started to ask me lots of questions about my employment status and previous rent .

Being just arrived in Newcastle I explained to them I was in a place for a month but I should move as soon as possible to my new flat ( the flat I am going to rent )

I suggested they ask for a reference from my previous landlord in Bristol but it seems this was not enough for them because they want the reference of the landlord where you live NOW even if it is just for only one day.

Moreover, i had to push my new employer to write a reference explaining my contract of work and hours.

Everything through a simple mail with no concern about my privacy.

Then they asked me to send a copy of the statement of my bank account again through a mail!

I was so worried about my privacy that I decided to hide the sort code and account number on my copies.

Then they asked me to send a few letters where the address of the new house appeared.

Because I have just arrived I could not show any letter with my name on it, apart from the letting agreement for only one month!

Again I told them to ask for a reference from my previous landlord in Bristol but they ignored me.

Every single day they were sending emails asking me to hurry up in presenting references if I wanted to rent my flat.

The odd company, managed by arrogant people with no respect for serious and important documents. Even worse I was contacted every day by a different person so it means my documents, bank statement, and address were not protected.

Because I was not ready to give them the information requested for their inefficiency and lack of explanations, they closed my file considering my situation as a “medium risk” and suggested the landlord a guarantor even if I was renting the flat for a couple of months before buying it with no mortgage!

At that point, I was very furious and contacted the landlord asking him to stop this stupid process of references that were not brought anywhere.

In eleven years living in Uk, I have never met before such types of companies judging people with no professionalism.

I have read on Trustpilot that many people have problems with the references behind Openrent but they are still around.

I think this market of rents is not regulated as it should be and the government should create a group of professionals who deal with these references if the life of a person is based on them.

But Boris is very rich and does not think his main worries are the references for renting standard flats.

Thanks for reading.




Laura Bernardeschi

Actress, life model , blogger and writer , originally from italy but living in Uk since 2011 .She lives for art