Right to Rent Checks for Landlords
From the 1st February 2016 it will be the responsibility of landlords and others involved with rental properties to check and confirm that their tenants or lodgers have the right to rent (and live) in the UK.
Within 28 days before the start of a new tenancy you must now check for people aged 18 or above living in your property, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement. This also includes written or verbal tenancy agreements. However, tenants in social housing or care homes do not need to be checked.
You need to carry out a right to rent check if you:
- are a private landlord
- have a lodger
- are sub-letting a property
- are an agent who has been appointed to make right to rent checks by a landlord.
This means that some landlords do not need to carry out checks, if you have engaged an agent to carry them out on your behalf. Make sure you get confirmation in writing from the agent if you have asked them to carry out the checks on your behalf.
How to make checks:
- Identify which adults will be living in the property as their main or only home
- Ask your tenants to see the original documents that show they have the right to be in the UK
- Make sure that the documents are valid and belong to the tenant
- Make copies of the documents, keep copies for records and note the date which the check was carried out.
What makes a property a main home for a tenant?
A property would usually be a tenant’s main home if:
- they live there the majority of the time
- they keep most of their belongings in the property
- their partner or children live with them
- the property is used as the registered address where they vote
- the property is used as the registered address with their doctor
Checking tenants original documents
When you’re with the tenant you need to check that:
- the documents are original and belong to the tenant
- the dates for the tenant’s right to stay in the UK haven’t expired
- the photos on the document are of the tenant and are recognisable
- the dates of birth are the same in all documents and are believable
- the documents aren’t too damaged and don’t look like they have been altered in any way
- if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why (e.g. marriage certificate or divorce decree)
If the tenant is arranging the tenancy from overseas, you must check the documents before they start living in the property in the UK.
Once you have made copies of the documents, you should keep the copies while they are your tenants and also for 1 year after.
You must make a further check if your tenants stay has a time limit, to ensure that their right to stay in the UK hasn’t expired. You could get fined if you do not make sure that your tenant’s right to stay in the UK has run out.
You must make further checks before:
- the expiry date of your tenants right to stay in the UK
- 12 months after your previous check
You won’t have to make further checks if your tenant doesn’t have a time restriction on their right to stay in the UK.
What happens if your tenant doesn’t pass the check?
You must tell the Home Office if you find out that your tenant can no longer legally rent property in England after making a further check. You might be fined if you don’t.
You can be fined up to £3000 if you rent your property to someone who isn’t allowed to rent a property in England.
For more information about the right to rent checks, click here to visit the government information page.
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