Landlords – Check your tenant’s right to rent

With effect from February 2016, Landlords must check that tenants or lodgers have the right to occupy rented accommodation in the UK, as their main home, or face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant. Before the start of a new tenancy, Landlords must carry out checks for tenants aged 18 and over, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement, or where there is no tenancy agreement in place.

How to carry out a check

  1. Check if the property is used as the tenant’s only or main home
  • they live there most of the time
  • they keep most of their belongings there
  • their partner or children live with them
  • they’re registered to vote at the property
  • they’re registered with the doctor using that address
  1. Check their original documents
  • the documents are originals and belong to the tenant
  • the dates for the tenant’s right to stay in the UK haven’t expired
  • the photos on the documents are of the tenant
  • the dates of birth are the same in all documents (and are believable)
  • the documents aren’t too damaged or don’t look like they’ve been changed
  • if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why, eg marriage certificate or divorce decree
  1. Make a copy of the documents
  • make a copy that can’t be changed, a photocopy or a good quality photograph
  • for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements ,for example work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
  • copy both sides of biometric residence permits
  • make a complete copy of all other documents
  • record the date you made the copy
  • retain copies of the tenant’s documents for the time they’re your tenants and for one year after.

Further checks

You must make a further check on your tenant to make sure they can still rent property in the UK, if their permission to stay is time limited. Depending on which is the longest, you must make a further check just before either:

  • the expiry date of your tenant’s right to stay in the UK
  • 12 months after your previous check

You won’t have to make a further check if your tenant doesn’t have any time restrictions on their right to stay in the UK.

If you find out that your tenant can no longer legally rent property in England, you must tell the Home Office, otherwise you might be fined. You can choose to evict your tenant if you want to, but must follow the rules for evicting tenants.

Agents and subletting

You can ask any agents that manage or let your property to carry out the check for you, but you should have this agreement in writing. If a tenant sub-lets the property without you knowing, then they are responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants.

As a landlord it is important that you understand these new rules and what they mean to you. Further information about Right to Rent and your obligations as a Landlord, can be found by clicking the button below:

Right to Rent Checks

Article written by Donna McCreadie