Right to rent checks - what's it all about?

There's been quite a bit of controversy surrounding the introduction of the right to rent checks, but whether or not you like the idea, the Government is forging ahead with it following what is claimed to be a rather unfruitful pilot of the scheme in the West Midlands.

Right to rent checks have been introduced as part of the government’s ongoing reforms to the immigration system and from 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to make right to rent checks. This means checking that tenants have the right to be in the UK. It doesn't say a lot for the Border Agency, does it?

Just to be warned, landlords who don’t make the checks could be fined up to £3,000 if they rent out a property to someone who’s in the UK illegally. How the Government will ever find this out given that they don't know the person is in the country anyway remains a mystery, but let's not take any chances and play it by the book.

What this means for landlords

Landlords need to make right to rent checks if they:

  • Are a private landlord

  • Have a lodger

  • Are sub-letting a property

  • Are an agent appointed by a landlord to make right to rent checks

How to make a right to rent check

  1. Check adult tenant(s) will live in the property as their only or main home

  2. Ask tenant(s) for the original document(s) that show they have the right to be in the UK

  3. Check the documents are valid with the tenant present

  4. Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check

Making a right to rent check with the Home Office

If a tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can request a Home Office right to rent check.

What this means for tenants

All tenants with tenancy agreements for privately rented accommodation after 1 February 2016 will be checked by a landlord or agent to make sure they have the right to rent.

Tenants who sub-let their room will also need to make right to rent checks.

Everybody in the property will be checked, so you won't be able to circumvent the check by being an occupier of a company let property.

Documents tenants can provide

Landlords will need to see certain documents which prove that the tenant has the right to be in the UK.

Acceptable documents include:

  • UK passport

  • EEA passport or identity card

  • Permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain

  • Home Office immigration status document

  • Certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

Read the full list of documents

So please be aware that if you are trying to rent a property in the UK you will be asked for certain documentation. Take it easy on the letting agent or landlord as they probably won't be too sure what they are doing and it really isn't their fault.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK