As a landlord in England, it is essential to be aware of and comply with the legal requirement to carry out Right to Rent checks on prospective tenants. The Right to Rent scheme, introduced by the UK government in 2016, aims to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing rented accommodation in the country. In this in-depth guide, we will outline the steps landlords must follow to ensure they are adhering to the Right to Rent regulations.
Step 1: Understand Who Requires a Right to Rent Check
The Right to Rent checks apply to all new tenancies in England, regardless of the nationality of the prospective tenant. This means that even British citizens or individuals with indefinite leave to remain must undergo the checks. However, there are specific exemptions, such as lodgers, certain types of student accommodation, and social housing
You are required to verify the immigration status of all adult tenants (aged 18 or over) who will be occupying the property as their primary residence, regardless of whether they are named on the tenancy agreement or not.
Step 2: Check the Tenant’s Documents
Landlords are required to verify the immigration status of prospective tenants by examining their original documents. The Home Office provides a comprehensive list of acceptable documents, which fall into two categories:
- List A: Documents that demonstrate an ongoing right to rent in the UK (e.g., a British passport, a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national identity card, or a Biometric Residence Permit with an unlimited right to remain in the UK).
- List B: Documents that demonstrate a time-limited right to rent in the UK (e.g., a valid visa or a Biometric Residence Permit with a limited right to remain).
It is crucial to examine these documents carefully, ensuring they are genuine and have not expired. If a tenant’s right to rent is time-limited, landlords must conduct follow-up checks before the expiry date or 12 months after the initial check, whichever is later.
Step 3: Make Copies of the Documents
Landlords must make clear copies of the tenant’s documents and retain them for the duration of the tenancy and for an additional year after the tenancy ends. This record-keeping is crucial, as it serves as evidence of having conducted the Right to Rent checks in the event of a Home Office inspection
Step 4: Conduct Follow-up Checks
If a tenant has a time-limited right to rent, landlords are required to conduct follow-up checks either before the tenant’s permission to stay in the UK expires or 12 months after the initial check, whichever is later. If a tenant loses their right to rent during the tenancy, landlords must report this to the Home Office.
To assist you in this process, we have compiled a comprehensive list of acceptable documents, divided into List A and List B.
List A: Documents Demonstrating Unlimited Right to Rent
Group 1 – Any one of these documents is sufficient:
- British passport (current or expired)
- EEA/Swiss national passport or identity card (current or expired)
- Permanent residence card or document certifying permanent residence issued by the Home Office
- Biometric residence permit or card showing indefinite leave to remain, enter or reside
- Certificate of naturalisation or registration as a British citizen
Group 2 – Any two of these documents in combination:
- UK birth or adoption certificate
- Full or provisional UK driving licence (photocard or paper counterpart)
- Letter from HM Prison Service, a probation officer, or a bail accommodation provider confirming the tenant’s current address
- Current UK firearm or shotgun certificate
- Evidence of current or previous service in the UK armed forces
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check issued within the last three months
- Benefits paperwork issued within the last three months
List B: Documents Demonstrating Limited Right to Rent
- Valid passport endorsed with a visa or leave to enter or remain in the UK
- Biometric residence permit or card showing limited leave to enter or remain in the UK
- Certificate of application for UK immigration status issued by the Home Office less than six months ago, along with proof of the applicant’s right to work from the Home Office Employer Checking Service
- Verification issued by the Home Office Employer Checking Service indicating the tenant may stay in the UK and has the right to rent
- Application Registration Card (ARC) issued by the Home Office stating the tenant is permitted to take the work offered
- Immigration status document issued by the Home Office with an endorsement indicating the tenant has the right to rent in the UK