Right to Rent - Overview

Right to Rent makes Landlords and/ or agents responsible for immigration checks to ensure that anyone they let a property to as their main home, has the right to be in the country. Is a means for the government to clamp down on illegal immigrants and bad landlords at the same time.

The scheme has been piloted in The Midlands, was it a success? Well frankly that depends on who you ask, but either way it’s being rolled out nationwide from 1st February.

What does a Right to rent Check entail?

There are four parts to a check:

1 – Confirm who will be living in the property and whether the property will be their main residence.

This includes all adult tenants and occupants who may not be named on the Tenancy Agreement.

2 – Check their documents.

Currently, with a UK Passport or driving license if the likeness is good, the date of birth matches, the address matches (driving license only) and the document appears to be genuine, then everything’s fine. However from February if the passport isn’t from the UK, Switzerland or a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) then more proof that the applicant has the right to be in the country will be required.

Similarly, a UK driving licence photocard on its own is not proof that the applicant can be here and further proof will be required.

A full list of documents can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370484/document_guidance_for_landlords.pdf

A full list of EEA countries is – 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.

3 – Take copies of documents

If the applicant only has right to remain for a limited period then make a note of date on which their right will expire as you will need to make a follow-on check (repeat this process) either at that point or after 12 months of the original check, whichever is later.

4- Keep the copies safe

Hold on to copies of documents for the duration of the tenancy and another year.

What if the applicant doesn’t have the right to be here?

If they don’t have the right to be here then you not only can’t let to them but you are obliged to make a report to the Home Office.

How do I know if a document is real?

The link above contains examples of documents that you may be presented with, tips on things to checks for and links to other information that may be helpful in assessing documents.

Will my agent make these checks?

More than likely but always check. It needs to be confirmed in writing in your contract with your agent, who is responsible for both initial and follow-up checks. If it isn’’t stated anywhere then responsibility remains with the landlord, regardless of whether the agent found the tenant, referenced them, signed the Tenancy Agreement etc.

What happens if my tenant shouldn’t be here?

If you (or your agent) have made every effort to comply with the scheme then you may be able to appeal.

If however, you haven’t appealed (or lost the appeal) and you have let the property to someone who shouldn’t be there then you risk a fine of between £80 and £3000.

The amount of the fine will depend on whether the tenant is a lodger or not, and whether it’s a first offence or not:

Type of accommodation               Amount for 1st time penalty     Amount for further penalties

Lodgers in a private household                       £80                                  £500

Tenants in rented accommodation                  £1000                              £3000

The draft guidelines for Right to Rent are 31 pages long so as you’d imagine this post has been a very brief run through of the main points. For a full explanation of the scheme please check the governments website – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/right-to-rent-checks-introduced-for-landlords-in-england