11 Jul 2017

Understanding Right To Rent

The Right to Rent scheme was introduced in February 2016. The legislation was put in place to ensure all tenants have the legal right to live in the UK, and aren’t residing here illegally. Prior to this, many landlords were checking the tenant’s immigration status anyway. However, the new scheme makes it compulsory – and failure to do so could result in a hefty fine of £3,000. 


What is ‘Right to Rent’?


Under the scheme, all landlords and agents in the UK must check the immigration status of their tenants, within the 28-day period

leading up to the date they move in. 


Your prospective tenants will fall into one of three ‘right to rent’ categories:




This applies to all British citizens, plus EEA or Swiss nationals. It is also applicable to those who have the right of abode, indefinite leave to remain, or who are legally permitted to remain in the country without a time limit.


All people with unlimited right to rent are permitted to rent from you, and you won’t incur a fine by letting to them. 




Some people may have been given legal rights to live in the UK for a limited period, or may be permitted due to a provision made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. 


If you rent to those with a time-limited right to rent, you won’t incur a fine. However, it’s your responsibility to check their paperwork regularly, to ensure they still have the right to live in this country in the future. 


No right


Some people have not sought permission to reside in the UK, and thus do not have the right to rent. If you let your property to a tenant in this category, it’s likely that you’ll be fined. 


How to Check Tenants


Firstly, you’ll need to find out exactly who will be living at the property. You’ll then need to view their documentation, proving that they have the right to rent in this country – which you’ll need to check in the presence of the tenant. 


However, it’s not enough to just check the document, you’ll also need to take a copy of it, then record the date on the back. If the tenant only has a time-limited right to rent, you’ll also need to make a note of when their right to stay runs out – as you’ll need to check their documentation again, just before this date. 


Who to Check / What Documents to Request?


To avoid discrimination, it’s important to check everyone, unless they’re a minor. Never make an assumption about someone’s right to rent, based on appearances!


Acceptable documentation includes:


  • A passport, showing that the tenant has the right of abode in this country.
  • A national identity card, showing that they are a national of the EEA or Switzerland.
  • Registration certificates, outlining permanent residence rights (as issued by the Home Office).
  • A permanent residence card.
  • A biometric immigration document (issued by the Home Office).
  • An up-to-date immigration status document.

The government’s official guide details all accepted forms of proof – click here to find out more. 

Humphrey and Brand
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