What is Right to Rent?
Right to rent is the name given to a Government policy contained in the Immigration Bill 2015 whereby landlords in England have to check the immigration status of tenants they rent properties to. Although the scheme was ruled to be incompatible with human rights by the High Court in March 2019, checks are still required pending an outcome of the Government appeal. This article outlines what is right to rent?
Who You Have to Check?
You must check that a tenant can legally rent your residential property in England. Before the start of a new tenancy, you must check all tenants aged 18 and over, even if:
- they’re not named on the tenancy agreement
- there’s no tenancy agreement
- the tenancy agreement is not in writing
Check all new tenants. It’s against the law to only check people you think are not British citizens.
If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, you need to do the check in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.
You do not need to check tenants in these types of accommodation:
- social housing
- a care home, hospice or hospital
- a hostel or refuge
- a mobile home
- student accommodation
You also do not need to check tenants if they live in accommodation that:
- is provided by a local authority
- is provided as part of their job (known as ‘tied accommodation’)
- has a lease that’s 7 years or longer
You must complete the steps described below in order to get what is known as the statutory excuse. If you follow these steps and keep a copy of the tenant’s documents, then you will be able to show your you have followed the policy and avoid fines levied by UKVI. Passport Proven is a tool designed to assist with the verification of Passports, ID cards and other commonly seen identity documents; using it will give you confidence the documents presented are genuine.
1) Check if the Property is Used as the Tenant’s Main Home
A property would usually be a tenant’s only or main home if:
- they live there most of the time
- they keep most of their belongings there
- their partner or children live with them
- they’re registered to vote at the property
- they’re registered with the doctor using that address
2) Check Their Original Documents
When you’re with the tenant, you need to check that:
- the documents are originals and belong to the tenant
- their permission to stay in the UK has not ended
- the photos on the documents are of the tenant
- the dates of birth are the same in all documents (and are believable)
- the documents are not too damaged or do not look like they’ve been changed
- if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree
If the Tenant Does Not Have the Right Documents
You should not rent the property until you have investigated further
You must do a follow-up check to make sure your tenant can still rent property in the UK if there’s a time limit on their permission to stay.
You can get a fine if you do not do a follow-up check and your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK ends.
Do the follow-up check just before the date that’s the later of:
- the end of your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK
- 12 months after your previous check
You do not have to do a follow-up check if there’s no time limit on your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK.