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What is the Right To Rent Check?

The right to rent check is compulsory for every tenant in the UK, hence it is essential that prospective tenants, particularly those recently moved to the UK, equip themselves with updated knowledge about this check.

Last updated September 17, 2020 by Build To Rent

Are you trying to find a home to rent in the UK? If so, you have probably heard about the right to rent. Introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014, the Right to Rent check is among the many reforms introduced by the UK government for creating a more effective system of immigration. Its purpose is to identify and prevent illegal immigrants from residing in the UK.

Learning about this check and how it works is essential for all tenants, especially those who have recently moved to the UK. Keep reading as we review the most important aspects of the right to rent scheme and how it affects you.

  1. What Is the Right to Rent Scheme?
  2. Who Has a Right to Rent in The UK?
  3. What Is the Process for a Right to Rent Check?
  4. Which Documents Are Required for the Right to Rent Check?
  5. What If The Tenant Doesn’t Have The Right Documents?
  6. When Does a Landlord Conduct Follow-Up Checks?
  7. What Happens If Landlords Do Not Carry Out A Check?
  8. Conclusion

What Is the Right to Rent Scheme?

The right to rent scheme is a set of rules that requires landlords to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants and make sure they are legally allowed to rent a property in the UK. The scheme has been in effect since 1st February 2016 and applies to all tenancy agreements that were in place on or after this date.

Clearing the Right To Rent check is mandatory for all tenants and other adult occupants that will be sharing the property with you. Individuals under the age of 18 are not subject to this check. This also applies to any guests that stay with you and do not pay rent.

If you do not clear the check, a landlord cannot let their property to you. Landlords are also legally required to report your immigration status to law enforcement authorities if you fail to prove your right to rent a home.

Landlords can carry out the check themselves or they can use a letting agent for the task. However, the ultimate responsibility of carrying out the check and managing its outcomes lies with the landlord.

Who Has a Right to Rent in The UK?

A border force officer in yellow hi-vis checking an immigrant's passport to ensure their stay in the UK is legal and they have the right to rent.

There are two types of groups that possess the right to rent in the UK. These include:

Individuals with an Unlimited Right to Rent: This applies to people having British citizenship, EEA nationality, or Swiss nationality. Other individuals in this category include those having:

  • The right of abode in the UK

  • Indefinite leave to remain in the UK

  • No time limit on their stay in the UK

Individuals with a Time-limited Right to Rent: This applies to people who are allowed to enter or stay in the UK for a limited period. For instance, if you have a student or work visa or if you have been provided with a time-limited right to rent by the Home Office, then you will fall into this category.

Individuals having a refugee status or those seeking asylum or protection on humanitarian grounds also have the right to rent a home.

Exemptions for the Right to Rent Check

Only private landlords are required to determine whether a tenant has a right to rent in the UK. Individuals residing in care homes, hospitals, social housing schemes, or student accommodations are exempt from the check.

What Is the Process for a Right to Rent Check?

The Right To Rent check is carried out within 28 days before a new tenancy agreement is put into effect. The process for carrying out this check is as follows:

Step 1: Confirm to the landlord that you will be using the property as your primary residence.

Step 2: Provide the landlord with original supporting documents as proof of identity and confirm your right to rent in the UK. A document checklist has been provided in the next section for your perusal. The landlord will review all documents in your presence to ensure their validity.

Step 3: Have the date of the check recorded and allow the landlord to create copies of all the documents provided. The landlord will retain these copies for a minimum period of 12 months once the tenancy agreement comes to an end.

Which Documents Are Required for the Right to Rent Check?

A landlord holding a grey pen and going through the list of acceptable right to rent documents to verify the tenant's.

Depending on whether you have an unlimited or time-limited right to rent, you will need to provide the landlord with the following documents during a Right To Rent check1:

Documents for Tenants Having Unlimited Right to Rent

These documents can be split into 2 categories:

Group 1: Any one document will suffice for the check. They can be current or expired.

  • UK/Swiss/EEA passport
  • EEA or Swiss National Identity Card
  • A registration certificate or document that indicates permanent residence issued by the Home Office to an EEA/Swiss national
  • A card provided by the Home Office to the family member of an EEA/Swiss national indicating permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain or enter the UK
  • Biometric residence permit indicating an unlimited leave
  • Passport or other travel documents indicating an unlimited leave
  • UK immigration document having an unlimited leave status
  • A naturalisation or registration certificate as a British citizen

Group 2: Any two documents must be shown for the check.

  • A UK birth or adoption certificate
  • A letter provided by a UK government department or other local authorities (issued within 3 months before the check)
  • A UK driving license (full or provisional)
  • A letter from the National Offender Management Service (issued within 3 months before the check)
  • A letter from a higher education institute in the UK (issued within 3 months before the check)
  • A letter from the HM Prison Service
  • Documents indicating the applicant is currently serving or has previously served in the UK armed forces
  • A letter from the law enforcement reporting the theft of documents required for the check (issued within 3 months before the check)
  • An attested letter from an individual having a UK passport and acceptable employment as specified in the list of acceptable professional persons (issued within 3 months before the check)
  • Benefits paperwork
  • A letter from a private rented sector access scheme (issued within 3 months before the check)
  • Criminal record check (issued within 3 months before the check)

Documents for Tenants Having a Time-limited Right to Rent

These include:

  • An endorsed passport or travel documents indicating the holder is permitted to stay in the UK for a specific period
  • A non-EEA national residence card
  • A document indicating the holder’s immigration status in the UK and carrying a time-limited endorsement from the Home Office
  • A biometric immigration card with permission to stay for a time-limited period

All documents must be current.

A rental agreement under a blue black pen and a white house model, ready to be signed if the tenant clears the right to rent check.

What If The Tenant Doesn’t Have The Right Documents?

If you do not have the required documents that can prove you are legally allowed to enter or stay in the UK, then landlords can use the Landlords Checking Service for assistance. This service has been established by the Home Office.

The Landlords Checking Service can also be used for tenants who have filed for an appeal regarding their immigration status or have submitted their documents to Home Office.

In both cases, the landlord can request the Home Office to run a free check on their behalf. You will have to provide the landlord with your Home Office reference number. If the Home Office fails to respond to the landlord within two business days, then the landlord can proceed with renting the property to you.

When Does a Landlord Conduct Follow-Up Checks? ⏳

Follow-up checks apply to tenants having a time-limited right to rent. In such cases, landlords are required to follow up on your right to rent status after:

  • Your permission to stay in the UK reaches its expiration date

  • 12 months following the last check to make sure you still qualify

An eviction notice being served to the tenant by their landlord when they do not clear the right to rent check.

If a follow-up Right To Rent check indicates that you can no longer rent the property, then the landlord must report your immigration status to the Home Office. A disqualification notice will be issued by the Home Office requiring the landlord to evict tenants that do not possess the right to rent in the UK. In such cases, landlords do not need a court order as grounds for eviction.

You will receive a 4-week eviction notice by the end of which you must vacate the property. Once your tenancy comes to an end, the landlord is allowed to change the locks. Landlords are still required to follow due process for any evictions that take place. They cannot assault you or force you to leave. If they do, you can file a complaint with the police.

If some occupants in your home do have a right to rent but others don’t, then the landlord will need a court order for eviction. They must also give proper notice to the tenants.

What Happens If Landlords Do Not Carry Out A Check? ⚠️

Landlords that fail to carry out a Right To Rent check before letting their property to a tenant can face legal action. They can receive an unlimited fine or get a prison sentence of up to 5 years for illegal renting. These penalties also apply to landlords that do not conduct a follow-up check on tenants with a time-limited right to rent2.

For lodgers in a private household, landlords can be fined £80 for the first penalty and £500 for further penalties.

For tenants in a rented accommodation, landlords receive a fine of £1000 for the first penalty. This can increase to £3000 for any further penalties.

A brown wooden gavel representing the laws associated with the right to rent check, in which landlords will be fined if they fail to carry out this process.

Conclusion

The Right To Rent check is mandatory for all tenants looking to rent a property in the private rented sector. If you fail this check, then we suggest you get some legal advice regarding your immigration status as soon as possible.

Landlords are also required to conduct other checks as part of tenant referencing to ensure your validity as a tenant. Click here to learn more about tenant reference checks.

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