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Right to Rent Checks Explained

As of 1 February 2016, the part of the Immigration Act 2014 that covers Right to Rent came into force throughout the whole of England after an initial trial in areas of the West Midlands.

What is a ‘Right to Rent’?

In order to be able to rent a property in England, you must have a right to be in the UK. If you have no such right, then you are not permitted to legally rent a home.

Who must make the checks?

Any landlord who lets private rented accommodation must conduct the checks, as must any tenant or occupier who is sub-letting a property, or a landlord or occupier allowing a lodger to live in the property. Landlords will not need to make checks on existing tenants who occupied their property prior to 1 February 2016.

When you engage Excel Property Services to source tenants for your property, you can rest assured that the appropriate Right to Rent checks will be undertaken on your behalf.

How do I make a Right to Rent check?

The process starts with an initial check of the potential tenant’s documents. If this shows that the person has a right to be in the UK indefinitely and the documents are in order, then you need not make any further checks. If however the check shows that the person may only stay in the UK for a limited period of time then a follow-up check will need to be made during the 28 days before the date the right expires.

When a tenant’s right to be in the UK is due to expire during a tenancy you will need to conduct a follow-up check either when the right expires, or after 12 months, whichever is later. If this check shows that the right has permanently expired then you will need to make an official report to the Home Office.

What should I do if the check proves suspicious?

If you have any suspicions that the tenants’ documents are false or have been tampered with then you should not proceed with the rental. If no documents can be provided but the tenant states that they have an outstanding immigration application, or an appeal with the Home Office, then you should request the person’s Home Office reference number and refer the check to the Landlords Checking Service.

What records do I need to keep as a landlord?

You should keep a copy of the documents you have checked, and make a note of the date of the initial and any follow-up checks. If documents have indicated that a right to be in the UK is due to expire during a tenancy, then you should mark this date in your diary so that the appropriate follow-up check can be made in time.

Which tenants will be checked?

All adult tenants will need to be checked, regardless of their perceived nationality. Appearances and accents do not necessarily indicate a particular nationality, and furthermore, it is important that landlords are not seen to be discriminating by checking some tenants but not others.

What happens if checks are not carried out?

Failure to conduct a Right to Rent check could lead to a civil penalty for a landlord of up to £3,000 if an illegal migrant is found to be living in a property owned or sub-let.

Where can I find out more about Right to Rent checks?

The government has issued a useful checking tool to guide you through the process. The following video should also prove helpful: