According to the 2014 Immigration Act, Section 22, a landlord is not legally allowed to let somebody have a tenancy agreement entitling them to live in a rental property as their main or sole residence unless they are a UK citizen, from Switzerland or the European Economic Area (EEA) unless they have a Right to Rent in this country. All landlords renting out private accommodation in England must conduct right-to-rent checks on new tenancy agreements to confirm that renters are legally able to rent in the UK.
You only need to check any adult occupiers who plan to use the property as their sole or main residence, meaning that children younger than 18 are not covered by the rules.
The government has said that the exception to this is if an individual has been based in the UK since pre-1973 without long periods of absence, they have an automatic right to rent property.
Who is covered by the rules?
These checks apply to you if you are:
- A private landlord
- A landlord letting out a room to a lodger
- Sub-letting all or part of your accommodation for payment (unless you have a written arrangement with the landlord that they are responsible for making right-to-rent checks)
- An agent that has been appointed to make these assessments
Right to Rent Check Stages
Determine who will be living in the property.
Obtain, check, and copy original documents showing that all adult occupiers have the right to rent in the UK.
Documents which are acceptable can include:
- A UK passport
- Permanent residence card
- Travel document demonstrating indefinite leave to remain
Even if you use a tenant referencing agency, you will still have to see and make copies of original documents yourself. Doing checks with the person present can help to confirm that photos are a genuine likeness.
If a potential tenant has a limit on the time allowed to stay in Britain, you will need to do a follow-up check, so make sure you diarise the date of when you have to do this.
It must be done shortly before the right to be here expires, or a year after the original check, whichever is later.
If your follow-up assessment determines that a person is no longer eligible to remain in the UK, you must report full details to the Home Office.
What is the punishment for not doing these checks?
If you let a property to somebody who is not entitled to be here, and you are unable to show you had right-to-rent checks carried out prior to the tenancy agreement starting, you could receive a maximum fine of £3,000 per occupant.
Similar penalties apply if you didn’t do follow-up checks or didn’t report to the Home Office that someone’s time to be here legally had run out.
From this year, entrants into the UK will have a page online incorporating their photo as well as information on working and renting rights. Landlords or agents need to verify that the online photo shows the right person.
Renters from these countries with a passport and a document like a boarding pass showing entry into the UK within the last six months will have a right to rent, and can be approved via the Landlord Checking Service.
- New Zealand
- South Korea
Andrea Wild, our Lettings Manager comments:
“We understand the concerns over landlords effectively becoming an unpaid border control service. While we welcome tenants whatever their country of origin, we must keep within the law. Let us sort out these checks – so you do not have to. We have many years of experience so if you are wanting the latest advice on right-to-rent checks, contact us to learn more, we’re always happy to give advice and our best practice top tips!”
- Rent Reductions During Covid-19
- Further Rules for Evictions & Rent Arrears
- Rent Arrears & Debt Extension
- Lawful and Unlawful Discrimination – Tenants & Landlords
- The Importance Of Building A Good Relationship With Your Tenants