What you need to do for Right to Rent to avoid a penalty

From 1 December it will be a criminal offence for landlords to rent out property to people who are in the UK illegally.

What you need to do?

Check whether a prospective tenant has the right to rent. (note: only for tenancies started on or after 1st February 2016 in England - or on or after 1st December 2014 if they rent in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton).

There are four main steps which a Landlord must follow in order to carry out a Right to Rent check.

They are:
  • check which adult will live in the property as their only/main home
  • ask all tenants for the original documents that show they have the right to live in the UK (it’s against the law to only check people you think aren’t British citizens)
  • check that the documents are valid, with the tenant present
  • retain evidence: make and keep copies of the documents and record the date that you made the check

What type of documents?

There are a number of documents that can be accepted as a valid example of a right to be in the UK. The government splits them into two list types: List A (divided into two groups) and List B.

1. List A: a continuous statutory excuse because there are no restrictions on the rights of the holder to be in the UK and to rent. It includes UK passports and a passport or national identity card (current or expired) showing that the holder is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. It is broken down into two groups to indicate whether one or two pieces of ID are needed:

Group 1 – if you have one of these documents you only need a single document to be checked. An example would be a UK passport.

Group 2 – if you have documents in this category you will need to provide two different pieces of documentation. An example would be a birth certificate and a driving licence.

2. List B - a time-limited statutory excuse.
An example of this would be a passport and visa which allows the holder to stay in the UK for a time-limited period.

If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, you need to do the check in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.

All documents in List B must be valid (not expired) at the time of the right to rent check.

If your prospective tenant has an ongoing application or appeal with the Home Office; or their documents are
with the Home Office; or if they state that they have special permission to rent from the Home Office there is a special form on the government website.

Do follow-up checks – List B

You will need to do a follow-up check if the initial check shows that someone has a limited right to rent and contact the Home Office if the second check shows that someone no longer has a right to rent
  • one year, beginning with the date on which the checks were last made, or
  • before the expiry of the person’s leave (immigration permission) to be in the UK,
  • or (whichever is longer from a or b) on the expiry of a person’s permission to stay in the UK as shown on their biometric residence permit)

You don’t have to evict a tenant or occupier who originally had a limited right to rent and then later has no right to rent. You’re only required to report the matter to the Home Office. A landlord must still follow the proper legal process to evict a tenant who isn’t a relevant national or who does not have a right to rent.

How does it work with Urban?

We do Right to Rent checks on all our letting packages. By running ID numbers we add another layer of checking to weed out any fraudulent documents.

You would need to ask the prospective tenant for their documentation, scan it in and email it to us. We would then get the information checked.

If there is a time limit on Right to Rent, we will alert you to the need to check again, so it’s one less thing for you to remember.

Further reading

You should check out:

  • Code of Practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation
  • Code of Practice for Landlords: Avoiding unlawful discrimination when conducting ‘right to rent’ checks in the private rented residential sector
  • The Home Office has set up a 'Landlords CheckingService'. A landlord can use this service if someone doesn't have any of the acceptable documents to prove that they are here lawfully.

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