A Landlord’s Guide to Right to Rent

Picture of keys in door by Harry Albert Lettings & Estates

People who are allowed to be in the UK have a right to rent. People who are not allowed to be here do not have a right to rent. Who should make right to rent checks? Right to rent checks should be made by landlords, agents or householders who are letting private rented accommodation, or taking in a lodger. Anyone who lives in a property as a tenant or occupier, and sub-lets all or part of the property, or takes in a lodger, should also make the checks. This applies to people living in both private and social housing.

Belgrave Family having breakfast with Leicester Letting Agent Harry Albert Lettings & EstatesRight to rent checks should be made by landlords, agents or householders who are letting private rented accommodation, or taking in a lodger. Anyone who lives in a property as a tenant or occupier, and sub-lets all or part of the property, or takes in a lodger, should also make the checks.
Isn’t it the Home Office’s responsibility to check Right to Rent?
The Immigration Act 2014 was introduced to the English Private Rented Sector and with it, the concept of ‘Right to Rent’. Right to Rent requires landlords to check the legal immigration status of potential tenants and any other prospective occupier before they are allowed to stay in the property. Failure to check the immigration status of their prospective occupiers could result in fines and other additional penalties relating to Right to Rent, including imprisonment.

What type of lettings are affected?

Right to Rent, first introduced in February 2016 and later amended in December 2016, applies to all residential tenancies with limited exceptions for social housing, halls of residence, etc. Nearly all private sector landlords with assured shorthold tenancies (AST), lodger agreements and holiday lets or other types of letting agreement whether written or verbal will be affected.

Other types of letting affected:

  • Lettings where it is not the tenant’s main home
  • Tenancies of more than 7 years where there is no break clause for the landlord
  • Letting to students where the education institution has placed the tenant in the property
  • People whose accommodation is provided by their employer
  • Mobile homes
  • Houseboats
  • Premium tenancies

Who can I let my property to?

You can let your property to anybody who has the Right to Rent in England. This includes:

  • British citizens; European Economic Area nationals (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.); and Swiss nationals.
  • People who have a ‘right of abode’ in the UK; who have been granted indefinite leave to remain; or have no time limit on their stay in the UK.

What do I need to do to carry out a Right to Rent check?

Harry Albert Lettings & Estates Leicester Letting Agents Belgrave Letting AgentsLandlords and their agents must not authorise a person to occupy their property as their home unless they can establish a legal right to reside in the UK. This is usually done by checking the identification of everyone over the age of eighteen who is expected to or likely to occupy the property.

Landlords or agents can verify their prospective occupiers Right to Rent from a range of documents, including:

  • British passports proving the holder is a British citizen or a citizen of the UK or British Colonies having a ‘right to abode’ in the UK.
  • Registration certificates or documents certifying or indicating permanent residence issued by the Home Office, to a national of the European Economic Area country or Switzerland.
  • A ‘permanent’ residence, ‘indefinite leave to remain’, ‘indefinite leave to enter’ or ‘no time limit’ card issued by the Home Office (current or expired), to a non-EEA national who is a family member of an EEA or Swiss national.

There is an extensive list of documents landlords and agents can use to verify an occupier’s Right to Rent available on the Government website. We always advise copies of documents are retained on file for the duration of and for some time after the tenancy in case the Right to Rent is ever questioned by authorities.

How do I check my tenants’ have a right to rent?

When it comes to checking your tenants’ Right to Rent, there are a few steps you can take.

  1. Establish the adults who will live in or might live in the property as their main home.
  2. Check passports or other documents (see above or visit the Government website) in the presence of the person who claims ownership of the document.
  3. Make and keep copies of any documents with dates of when the check was carried out.
  4. Keep copies of the documents for 12 months after the end of the tenancy in case you ever have to present them to the authorities.

Leicester letting agent, Harry Albert Lettings & Estates advises landlords;

Your paperwork is king. If the authorities ever want to question someone’s right to rent, it may be the landlord they turn to and if they don’t have the relevant paperwork, it might spell trouble for the landlord.

Does credit checking help?

Credit checks certainly help as part of the referencing process but are useless for verifying an occupier’s Right to Rent. Completing background and referencing checks on your prospective tenants is helpful because it allows you to reduce the risks you take when letting your property.

You can perform a credit check through Experian for as little as £18 but many referencing agencies will provide a credit check as standard.

By doing a credit check, you’ll be more informed as to whether or not the tenant is likely to actually pay the rent and this will help you to protect your property investment and reduce losses.

Credit checks should tell you whether your tenant has a County Court Judgement (CCJ) against them or other adverse credit history or warnings, whether the tenant has had any involvement in fraud, a risk score and identity check.

A credit check will not give you an in-depth report of the tenant’s financial history, this was enshrined in protection by the Data Protection Act and has now been replaced with the GDPR.

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