Right to Rent Checks & Legislation

By Robert Burwood | 18th Oct 2017 | Landlord Advice

Under Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, a landlord must not authorise an adult to occupy property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, or European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national, or has a Right to Rent in the UK. The law introduces a requirement from 1 February 2016 for all landlords of private rental property in London and England to carry out Right to Rent checks for new tenancy agreements to determine whether occupiers aged 18 and over have the right to live in the UK legally.

Who do landlords have to check the Right to Rent?

This is now the legal responsibility of the Landlord. You need to make Right to Rent checks if you are:

  • A private landlord
  • Have a lodger
  • Are sub-letting a property
  • Are an agent appointed by a landlord to make Right to Rent checks

Any occupier who sub-lets all or part of their accommodation to a person for money will be classed as landlord under the law and liable for penalty. However, the sub-letter can ask their landlord to accept responsibility for conducting checks and this agreement should be made in writing. Additionally, landlords can legally agree for an agent to assume responsibility for conducting checks and ultimately become liable to a penalty themselves. This must be done in writing. The agent can then carry out the checks and where necessary, make a report to the Home Office. The agent must also report back to the landlord. If an agent’s Terms of Business state they will undertake reference checks on the tenant, the agent will become liable for the Right to Rent checks. Clauses which attempt to remove the liability for Right to Rent checks will not remove liability. Landlords who don’t make the checks could be fined up to £3,000 if they rent out a property to someone who’s in the UK illegally.

What type of tenants are exempt from Right to Rent Checks?

The law does not apply to children (under the age of 18) living at the property and you only need to check people who will be using your property as their only or main home. You do need to conduct checks on all adult occupiers, not just the tenancy holder.

How do Landlords carry out Right to Rent checks?

A landlord, or their nominated agent must check a tenant’s qualifying documentation 28 days prior to the start of the tenancy.

Original documents need to be presented in person by the prospective tenant.

What documentation can tenants provide for Right to Rent Checks?

Qualifying eligible documents include but are not restricted to the following or a combination of the following: 

  • UK passport
  • EEA passport or identity card
  • Permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain
  • Home Office immigration status document
  • Certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

What does Right to Rent mean for tenants?

If you cannot prove you have the right to reside within the UK you may not legally enter into a tenancy agreement.