The government wants to ensure tenants in private rented housing are not living in the UK illegally.The ‘right to rent’ checks aims to benefit landlords and agents providing a legitimate service to tenants and those communities blighted by illegal structures and overcrowded houses.
A short video explaining the ‘Right to Rent’ checks.
Landlords or agents who are responsible for undertaking checks and fail to do so, or knowingly allow illegal migrants to rent their properties could face a civil penalty of up to £3000 per illegal tenant.
Landlord or agents should check all adults (aged 18 over) who will live in the property regardless of what you believe their nationality to be. This includes people who will live in the property but are not named on the tenancy agreement. The right to rent checks will only apply to new tenancy agreements. Landlords will not be required to carry out retrospective checks, or evict existing tenants.
Landlords must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent your residential property in England if their tenancy starts on or after 1 February 2016.
If your property is in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley or Wolverhampton, you must make checks on your tenants if their tenancies started on or after 1 December 2014.
Within 28 days before the start of a new tenancy, you must make checks for:
- people aged 18 and over living in your property, whether they’re named in the tenancy agreement or not
- all types of tenancy agreements, written or oral
Tenants in some types of accommodation (eg social housing and care homes) won’t need to be checked.
There are resources available to help landlords comply with the new rules:
- A checking aid on GOV.UK, which landlords can use to guide them through the process, and also to request a check on anyone who has an outstanding case with the Home Office.
- The Home Office has been working with a panel of industry experts to produce an updated landlords’ code of practice which includes changes to the acceptable document list to make it even simpler to conduct a check and to prevent unlawful discrimination.
- The Housing Rights website has developed guidance around migrants’ rights in the private rented sector. Pages for migrants can be accessed here, and the more detailed page for advisers here. Both have links to pages with more detailed guidance on legal issues and immigration checks.