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Right to Rent - What Does It Mean for a Tenant?

We have set out below, everything you need to know about how Right to Rent checks are undertaken and what they mean for you as a tenant. A letting or managing agent may conduct Right to Rent checks on behalf of the landlord if an agreement exists between the landlord and agent.

What is Right to Rent?

The Right to Rent scheme requires landlords to check that all tenants who occupy their properties have legal status to live in the UK. This means that before you can rent a home in England, a landlord or letting agent must undertake passport and immigration checks prior to letting out the property. These rules do not currently apply if you are renting in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Why Am I Subject to a Right to Rent Check?

The Home Office introduced Right to Rent checks with the aim of making the UK an inhospitable environment for people who try to live in the UK illegally.

As a private tenant in England, if your tenancy began on or after 1 February 2016 and you are renting a property as your main home, you must prove that you have a legal status to live in the country. Tenancies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will not be subject to Right to Rent checks until work with devolved administrations is complete, there is not yet a timetable for this.

So How Does It All Work?

To carry out a Right to Rent check, your landlord or letting agent must: 

  • Check an original item of identification (from a list of acceptable identification documents) to make sure you have the right to live in the UK legally.
  • Check the documents of any other adult occupiers aged 18 or older living at the property, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement.
  • Make copies of the documents and securely store them throughout the tenancy and for at least one year afterwards.
  • Make follow up checks where identification is time limited e.g. a student visa
  • Return original documents once they’ve finished the check.

Acceptable documents include a UK/EU passport and a permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain. A full list of documents can be found here.

Checks must always be carried out face to face with all prospective occupiers using original documents.

What about Sub-Letting?

If you are a tenant who is sub-letting a property or a room, you will need to make Right to Rent checks. It will be your responsibility to make a check and retain evidence of a check prior to the occupier moving in.

For the purpose of Right to Rent the tenant who sublets becomes the landlord and will be responsible for any enforcement action or fines. You can ask your landlord to carry out the checks, but this agreement must be done in writing.

I'm an Overseas Tenant…

If as a tenant you are trying to arrange your tenancy from overseas, your landlord can agree a tenancy in principle, subject to an ID check on arrival.

If you are unable to provide the acceptable documents confirming your identity and right to live in the UK, you will not be able to rent property in England.

However, if you have an ongoing application with the Home Office, or if they are holding your documents because of an outstanding case or appeal, your landlord or letting agent can request that the Home Office carry out a Right to Rent check via an online form or by calling the Landlords Helpline on 0300 069 9799 - they will need your Home Office Reference number to do this.

Why Do I Need Another Check?

If you don’t have any restrictions on your right to stay in the UK (such as if you are a British citizen, from a European Economic Area (EEA) nation or a non-EEA national with the right to be in the UK indefinitely), then your landlord or letting agent won’t need to carry out any further checks.

However, your landlord or letting agent will have to make a repeat check if there’s a time limit on your right to stay in the UK. This means that they will ask to see your documents again just before your permission to stay runs out, or after 12 months, whichever is longer.

If the follow up check shows that you no longer have the right to live in the UK, the landlord or letting agent must report it to the Home Office.

Disqualified Tenancy Due to Immigration Status

It is possible that the Home Office may send your landlord a notice, telling them that someone living in their property is disqualified from renting as a result of their immigration status.

If a landlord or letting agent receives a notice confirming that you as a single person household do not have the right to rent or if you live with other adults and none of you have the right to rent, the landlord or letting agent will need to either take reasonable steps to end the tenancy or serve a notice asking you to leave.

The minimum required notice period for occupiers to vacate a property is 28 days. In the instance that a disqualified person does not leave the premises by the end of the 28-day period, the landlord must then take formal steps to end the tenancy.

Where the tenancy relates to a mix of legal and disqualified tenants, a landlord or letting agent will be expected to give the disqualified tenant a Notice requiring them to leave within 28 days. The landlord can allow the remaining tenants to continue their tenancy by reassigning the tenancy to one or more remaining adult occupiers who do have the Right to Rent.

For more information, take a look at the Government’s short guide on Right to Rent.

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