Despite having to pay for the privilege of having a background check conducted on themselves, most renters don’t perform the same due diligence on their potential landlord, leaving them at risk of renting from dodgy or criminal landlords, according to brand new Kiwi Movers research. In fact, just of 8% of renters in the capital do any sort of background check and half say they’d take what they got. Our research also found that more than a third of renters would favour a landlady over a landlord, with 44% of women saying they’d prefer to rent from another female.

What else did our London movers study find?

  • Only 20% of UK renters do any sort of check on their landlord before agreeing a tenancy.


  • Figure drops to just 8% for London with almost half of renters in the capital willing to ‘take what they can get’.*


  • More than a quarter of renters would prefer to rent from a female.


  • 44% of women would prefer to rent from another woman.


  • 1 in 5 believe renting from an agency meant they didn’t need to worry about landlord credentials or history.


  • 18% of those who did find useful negative information on a landlord say it affected their decision to rent from that person.


  • Renters in Liverpool most likely to check out a landlord online before renting.


Just 8% of London residents do any kind of background check on their landlord, 62% below the national average of 20%. London residents are also the least likely to act on information about a potential landlord, with fewer than half (44%) of them saying negative the information had influenced a housing decision. In other words, the need to secure a property was greater than their need to rent with confidence.

Renters in Liverpool are most likely to carry out background checks on their landlord. A third of the city’s residents say they’ve performed a background check on a landlord before agreeing to move into a property.

Dan Wilson Craw, Policy Manager, Generation Rent says:

“Anyone with a spare room or flat can let it out with no checks involved, so there is an unknown number of dodgy landlords out there. For the tenant, there is no way of finding out what their prospective landlord is like beyond a Google search, and even then it might be too late to back out of a contract without forfeiting fees. This is why we need to open up the list of convicted landlords for tenants to access, and, better yet, introduce a system of licensing.”

A separate study, conducted in March 2019 by London property maintenance firm Aspect found that more than half (53%) of London’s renters have experienced injuries and health problems from poorly maintained rental property. Aspect operations director Nick Bizley said ““Our tradespeople regularly see and report examples of corner-cutting on maintenance, especially where properties have been converted into homes of multiple occupancy, such as a large houses converted into flats, but also at the higher end of the property market too.”

Landlords vs Landladies

Almost half of female renters would prefer a female landlord.

More than a quarter (29%) of tenants surveyed said that if they had the choice, they’d prefer to rent from a woman and that the sex of their landlord would influence whether they rented a specific property. For women, that figure increased to 44%.

Men were less picky, with just a quarter saying the gender of the homeowner would influence their decision to rent a property. Of those expressing a gender preference, more than half (52% would prefer a female).

Cities with renters most likely to check out a potential landlord


City % of renters who have checked out a landlord before renting (national average – 20%)
Liverpool 33.30%
Swansea 31.63%
Southampton 26.83%
Leicester 24.33%
Glasgow 24.07%
Sheffield 23.37%
Brighton and Hove 23.30%
Cardiff 23.00%
Portsmouth 21.73%
Birmingham 21.00%



Billie Gianfrancesco a PR manager for YOPA, a fixed rate estate agency, has been renting in London since 2008 and is on her fifth rental property.

“In my experience, female landlords tend to work more closely with property managers or put a system in place whereby tenants can resolve any issues quickly without needing to bother or chase them.

I’ve found that male landlords prefer to try and resolve the issue themselves first. This often means repeat visits in person, which makes any tenant nervous, and a greater recurrence of botched DIY repairs. In one situation an upstairs bath was leaking, and our male landlord visited four times attempting to fix the issue himself. Because of this, the problem wasn’t resolved for over a month. I faced a similar issue a couple of years later with a female landlord – she called in a professional and the issue was resolved within a week

As a female tenant, I also prefer to deal with a female landlady as in my personal experience, I have at times felt intimidated by male landlords. This is particularly true when dealing with the inventory check out and deposit negotiations at the end of a tenancy.

I have in the past felt patronised by certain male landlords quoting ridiculous prices for repairs (for example £768 to replace a chipped slate tile on an outdoor porch, and £1,020 to replace a 20 year old alarm system with a brand new one, when multiple technicians had confirmed it was broken due to age) and as recently as this year, I was threatened by a male landlord for disagreeing with his deposit deduction demands above. I’ve never had this experience with a female landlord!

I’ve also had a great male landlord. It’s just that if I had a preference it would be a female.

Regan McMillan, boss of Kiwi Movers, believes the rental market is so cut-throat that tenants are putting themselves in the hands of potentially dodgy landlords, just to secure a property:

“As a London removal firm we see the sharp end of the rental market. We get to meet and speak to a lot of people who, quite frankly, are at the mercy of the highly competitive rental market. Rental properties are snapped up in a flash and most people know that if they want to secure a place to live, they need to act quick. This means they simply don’t have time to check out a landlord and even if they did, I think a lot of them would take the risk just to get a place to live.

“The problem is less pronounced outside of the capital, but it’s still a sad state of affairs for renters all over the UK. That only 20% of renters nationally are checking out their landlord before renting is hugely concerning. As a nation, we probably take more care when buying a car than we do when choosing a person from whom to rent a home.”