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The Right to Rent Check: What Landlords Need to Know

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Section 32 of the Immigration Act 2014 sets out clear guidelines for landlords renting out property, with a code of practice known as ‘Right to Rent’. Under these measures, landlords must complete a verification process by obtaining, checking and recording identity documents provided by each prospective adult tenant.

 

What is the Purpose of Right to Rent checks?

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The rules were brought in to ensure all people renting in the UK have the legal home office permissions to do so. It is therefore a legal requirement for landlords to check whether applicants are eligible to rent a residential property as their only, or main, home.

This also applies to tenants sub-letting all, or part of the property and to owner/occupiers taking in a lodger.

 

Who has the Right to Rent?

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There are three groups of people who have unlimited rights to rent:

  • British citizens, Irish citizens and those who have been given rights to live in the UK or granted settled status with no time limit.
  • Individuals with verifiable, time-limited rights can also be allowed to rent. This includes applicants with pre-settled status.
  • Individuals applying to rent a property are required to provide identity documents to a landlord or letting agent in the same way that they would present them to a border control official at an immigration checkpoint.

 

What do I need to do as a Landlord?

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A landlord Right to Rent check involves inspecting the identity documents of anyone aged 18 or over who intends to live in your property as their only, or main home. You must carry out a check on each adult, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement.

This applies even when there is no tenancy agreement or the agreement is not in writing.

 

Landlord’s checklist for Right to Rent:

  • Ask prospective tenants to supply original documents that prove they have a right to be in the UK.
  • Make an inspection of the documents, ensuring they are valid, original documents (the applicant must be physically present at the time of checking*).
  • Make copies of the documents and record the time and date when the check was done.
  • Undertake follow-up checks on relevant dates (for example, when the tenant’s visa is due to expire).

Under a temporary arrangement put in place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, you can currently use an online service to check some applicants’ documents digitally. However, this facility will not be available after 30th September 2022.

You should record the full names and dates of birth of all adults planning to live on the property as part of the proof of right to rent. Also, note the names and birth dates of all children under 18 who will be living in the household.

The scheme doesn’t apply to children, but the landlord must be ‘reasonably satisfied’ that anyone introduced as a child is under 18. There is no requirement to carry out a Right to Rent immigration check when a child living at your property reaches the age of 18. But in the event of any follow-up checks on the household, this individual should be included as an adult.

 

How do I know which Right to Rent documents to Request?

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If your prospective tenant has been issued with an e-visa you will need to use the Government’s online service to verify their status. When carrying out a manual check, you will need to refer to the official list of acceptable documents (page 48 of the ‘Landlord’s Guide to Right to Rent Checks’).

The verification process should be approached in the same way for the UK and non-UK citizens. The Government’s landlord guide urges landlords and letting agents to: “be consistent in how they conduct right to rent checks on all prospective tenants, including those who the landlord believes is more likely to be British citizens.”

 

What Should I do if my Tenant’s Visa has Expired?

If the occupant of your property continues to rent without a valid visa, you are required to report them to the Home Office.

If you are found to have permitted a tenant with no legal status to live on your property, you could be sent to prison for five years or receive an unlimited fine.

 

Further steps

Our estate and letting agents in Central London are always ready to advise clients on matters relating to letting a property. If you need any help with Government Right to Rent checks or any other aspect of buying or letting, our property specialists would be happy to advise you.

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