Right to rent checks: A guide for landlords

A landlord’s guide to right to rent checks

Since February 2016, the UK government has required landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants. Today, landlords and agents can only let property to people with the right to rent in the UK. If a landlord or agent is found to be renting a property to someone who does not have the right to rent, then they could face a penalty of up to £3,000. This guide to right to rent checks will help you keep on the right side of the law.

 Why were right to rent checks introduced?

Right to rent checks are a response to the 2014 Immigration Act which was introduced to curb illegal immigration. They began in a pilot scheme which was rolled out nationally in February 2016. The government identifies a landlord as anyone who “lets accommodation for use by one or more adults as their only or main home”. This definition includes having lodgers too. Landlords must be certain of a tenant’s right to rent before offering them accommodation.

Whose right to rent must you check?

Every prospective tenant must be checked by the landlord, not just those who you think aren’t British citizens. A tenant’s right to rent must be secured before the start of a new tenancy, and checks must be made for all tenants of 18 and over. Even tenants who aren’t named on the agreement have to be checked if they are over 18 and living in the property. The same is true if there is no tenancy agreement in place, or if the agreement isn’t in writing.

How to carry out right to rent document checks

Right to rent document checks must be undertaken for each adult who will use your property as their home. You must request original documents of each occupant that proves the tenant can live in the UK. You’ll need to check that the tenant’s documents give them the right to rent your property, and that they are genuine and belong to the tenant. It’s important to keep copies of the documents and make a note of the date the copies were taken. Take a look at the government website to find out more about how to carry out right to  rent document checks .

Conducting further checks

If your tenant’s stay is limited then you must be sure you undertake further checks before your tenant’s right to stay expires or 12 months after the last check. If your tenant doesn’t have any time restrictions, you won’t need to undertake any further checks.

Right to rent rules only apply to private landlords as care homes, local authorities, hospitals and hospices are exempt.

Undertaking the necessary checks is important if you are to avoid complexity in the longer term. But there are more day-to-day events that can befall a property that you will want to anticipate. As a responsible landlord, you’ll want the protect your property investment against the potential consequences of events outside your control. Take a look at our  Landlord Insurance  now.

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