Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

The Right to Rent deadline approaches. From Monday (1st February 2016) all new tenants in England must be given Right-to-Rent (Immigration) Checks to determine their “right-to-rent” or “right-to-reside” in the country, BEFORE they can be given a tenancy.

Landlords or letting agents must do the checks – letting agents where the landlord has an appropriate written agreement with the agent. To avoid discrimination and being in breach of the Equality Act 2010, EVERYONE must be processed in the same way.

The responsibility for doing this and the penalty for not complying (up to £3,000 per tenant) lies with the landlord. If the landlord decides to delegate the responsibility to a letting agent, then they need a written agreement in place with the agent first. The same goes where tenants are to sub-let with a landlord’s permission. The agreement must make it clear the agent or tenant is taking full responsibility for completing the immigration checks.

In most cases the checks will be simple and straightforward, involving face-to-face verification of a passport or similar document and taking and dating a good copy. This copy will then normally be verified against other information when credit checks and referencing are carried out.

The requirements may pose difficulties for landlords with tenants coming from abroad and also for some online only letting agents. This is because original documents (not copies) must be checked face-to-face, though this may be done using a live video link such as Skype or Facetime. Therefore, if tenants are to secure a place before travelling from abroad, in will be necessary to send original documents on ahead to be verified via a link.

One option for tenants coming from abroad is to request emailed copies of documents in the first instance (saves trusting original documents to the post) where checks can be carried out, but original documents MUST be checked face-to-face BEFORE a tenant enters into (signs) a tenancy agreement (contract).

The Immigration Act 2014 says ALL residential tenancies, including lodgers in landlords’ homes and even tenants who sub-let, must comply. There are few exemptions: social housing, student halls of residence, holiday lets are examples. There are stiff penalties for non-compliance: up to a £3000 fine for each occupier.

All adults (over 18 years of age) must NOT be allowed to occupy a residential rental property as their only or main residence unless they have a right to reside in the UK. If they have a time limited right to reside, or they will become 18 during the course of a tenancy, landlords have an obligation to check and re-check the tenant/s at the appropriate time.

There are two kinds of right-to-rent: (1) Permanent and (2) Time Limited

(1)    Permanent Right-to-Rent means those people having a right to reside in the UK including those granted indefinite leave to remain and have no time limit on their stay. These include British citizens; European Economic Area (EEA) nationals (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.), and Swiss nationals.

(2)    Time Limited Right-to-Rent means those people who are not British citizens, EEA or Swiss nationals given leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time. Time limited tenants or those under 18 when a tenancy starts will need to be checked or rechecked within 28 days of their right-t-reside expiring. Landlords will need to diarise these critical dates and follow-up.

The 4-Step Right-to-Rent Checking Process – landlords need to:

(1)    Obtain original (acceptable) documents for all adults who will occupy as their main residence.

(2)    Check the documents face-to-face with each document holder and establish identity.

(3)    Make copies of these documents and retain for 12 months after the tenancy, marking the copies with the date the checks were made.

(4)    Not compulsory but we recommend you take a passport type photo of all adults who will occupy

Use the handy “Right to Rent Declaration Form” supplied in out Documents section – look under the “Moving-In” heading –

Landlords should be aware:

The responsibility for doing these checks falls on the landlord. If landlords are to delegate the responsibility to an agent they will need a written agreement, signed by both parties stating time- scales and stating that the agent takes full responsibility for penalties if the regulations are not fully complied with.

All checks must be carried out within the 29 days prior to the tenancy agreement being entered into.

Under the Equality Act 2010 landlords are prevented from discriminating on grounds of race, including nationality, colour of skin, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.


Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


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