The right to rent checks – The Basics for Tenants and Landlords

Legislation that came into force on 1 February 2016, now make it compulsory for all new tenants wanting to rent property in the England, to prove that they have the right to rent.  

If a person is not able to provide the acceptable documents, he/she will not be able to rent property in England.

There is also a liability imposed on landlords, householders or their agents. Should they not follow the correct right to rent checks and is found to have let the property to a person who does not have the right to rent, they will become liable to pay a civil penalty.

Who needs to conduct the right to rent checks?

The right to rent check needs to be made by landlords or householders, or the agents of these, who are letting private rented accommodation. This also includes anyone who sub-lets part of property or takes in a lodger, in both private or social housing.

Who needs to be checked for the right to rent?

All persons over the age of 18 years living in the property have to be checked whether they have a right to rent. This includes everyone who will occupy the property as their main or only home, even if they are not named in the tenancy agreement.

Children do not need to be checked, but the landlord should satisfy themselves that children are under the age of 18 years at the time the tenancy starts, and keep evidence of this.

Responsibilities of the landlord

The landlord has to adhere to rules regarding the right to rent checks or face a civil penalty.
This includes the following;

  • Checking the tenant’s original documents to ensure that the person has a right to rent in England.
  • Check the documents of all other adults living in the property.
  • All original documents must be returned to the tenants, and the landlord needs to make copies of all the documents and keep them for record keeping purposes until the tenants vacate the property.
  • Landlords do not have to check the right to rent of existing occupiers who moved in before the requirement to conduct checks was introduced.
  • The landlord will have to make repeat checks if there is a time limit on the occupier’s right to stay in the UK. The landlord will have to ask to see the documents again just before the permission to stay runs out, or after 12 months, whichever is longer.
  • Landlords need not do further checks on occupiers if they are British or EEA Citizens, or have no time limit on their right to stay in the UK.

Accommodation Exempted from the Right to Rent Checks

Certain types of accommodation and living arrangements are exempt from the requirement to make the right to rent checks. This includes; student accommodation – such as halls of residence, accommodation provided by your employer as part of the training or job, social housing; hostels and refuges, care homes, and accommodation provided by the local council.