What is a right to rent check – landlords' questions answered

What is a right to rent check – landlords' questions answered

Published 4th March By Kevin Woolcott
minute read

What is a right to rent check?  

Anyone who rents out property in England is legally required to check that their tenants have the right to rent in the UK.  

If you’re wondering ‘what is a right to rent check?’ we look at what the process involves and why landlords in England must follow the law when it comes to checking the immigration status of anyone looking to rent a property. As a landlord, the key thing to
remember is that you must carry out the checks on every new tenant before they move in - fail to do so and you could be seriously out of pocket or even face imprisonment.  

What exactly is the ‘right to rent’?   

The right to rent means that only people who have the right to live in the UK can rent a property. It was introduced in 2016 as part of the Immigration Act 2014.  Right to checks only apply in England, not the other UK nations. Your potential tenants have the right to rent in the UK if they are:  

  • British or Irish citizens.  

  • People with indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 

  • People with refugee status or humanitarian protection - however asylum seekers do not usually have the right to rent. 

  • Anyone with settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme. 

  • People with permission to be in the UK on a work or student visa. 

  • Those with a time-limited right to rent granted by the Home Office. 

What does a right to rent check involve? 

By carrying out a right to rent check you are confirming the immigration status of your potential tenant. You can carry out the checks by manually inspecting your tenants’ documents or using a government share code. 

Who is responsible for the checks?   

As the landlord, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring the right to rent checks are carried out. You may delegate the duty to a letting agent, but you must put this in writing.  

How to check right to rent evidence   

  • If your tenants are British or Irish citizens, they can show you a current or expired passport or certificate of registration or naturalisation. You will need to see original documents, not copies. If they don’t have any of these, there are other documents you can use.  
  • If your tenants have EU settled or pre-settled status or a biometric residence card or permit or an eVisa you can carry out the check their status using a share code. You will need the tenant to email you their date of birth and the share code, enabling you to check their immigration status online.   
  • If your tenants’ documents are held by the Home Office you can request a right to rent check online.

Who needs a right to rent check?   

You must check the immigration status of every person aged over 18 who will be living at the property - not just those named on the tenancy agreement. You still need to carry out the checks if there is no tenancy agreement. It is important to check the status of every tenant - not just those you believe to be foreign nationals. It is against the law to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of race, nationality, how long they have lived in the UK or where they were born. 

Check with the Home Office if the tenant is a Commonwealth citizen but does not have the right documents - they might still have the right to rent in the UK.  

Do I need to carry out a follow-up right to rent check?

In some cases, your check may reveal that there is a time limit on your tenants right to remain in the UK. In this case you must carry out a follow-up check or face a fine.  You must do the follow up check at the end of your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK or 12 months after your previous check, whichever is later. 

What happens if you have illegal tenants?

Landlords who rent their properties to tenants without the right to live in the UK, or who fail to carry out follow-up checks if needed, could face a £3,000 fine or even five years in prison. 

If you are a London landlord with rental properties in Putney, Wandsworth, Battersea or Fulham, we’d be happy to help with manage your legal responsibilities, including right to rent checks.
Contact us to discuss the ways we can make your life as a landlord easier.

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We recognise the challenges associated with buying, selling, letting, or renting, which can be overwhelming at times. We are here for you during those crucial moments, striving to ensure that the process is as stress-free as can be.

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