In order to ensure a trouble-free tenancy, it is vital that your prospective tenant is legally allowed to be in the country and therefore able to rent a property. So, there are a few things that need careful consideration, such as the new obligation that all landlords face under section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014 that has been dubbed the ‘Right to Rent’.
Right to Rent was introduced under the Immigration Act 2014 and it is really important for both tenants and landlords to understand the implications of this act. The subsequent Immigration Act of 2016 added to the legislation, making it a criminal offense to knowingly let to a person who is disqualified from renting a property.
So, anyone who lets private property in England, including those subletting or taking in lodgers, should make Right to Rent checks. Landlords operating elsewhere in the United Kingdom are not bound by the same legislation.
It places restrictions on illegal immigrants accessing rented accommodation in England by making all adult occupants prove they are in the UK legally before being granted a tenancy. This is done through a process called a Right to Rent check.
Private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of all tenants, lodgers and any other adults who will be living in the property. The right to rent checks has to take place before the tenancy starts.
The landlord/agent must:
Check all adult tenants who will live in the property as their only or main home
Ask tenants for the original documents that show they have the right to be in the UK.
Check the original documents with the tenant physically present and ensure they are valid.
Make copies of the original documents and record when the check was completed
Conduct follow up checks at the appropriate time (e.g. repeat the check when a tenant's visa expires).
Right to rent checks must be done in a way that does not break equality laws. Landlords and agents must not make assumptions about who has the right to rent. They must not encourage, discourage or refuse tenancy applications on the basis of: race, colour or ethnicity, nationality or place of birth, accent or English language skills, length of residency in the UK.
If your tenant is from the EEA or a Swiss citizen then here’s what you should ask for:
A valid passport
A valid EEA/Swiss national ID card
A valid UK driving licence and original UK birth certificate (for British citizens only)
For other nationalities, you’ll need a combination of a passport, a valid visa or a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
Since 1 July 2021, EEA citizens and their family members require immigration status in the UK. To prove their right to rent they can no longer rely on an EEA passport or national identity card, which only confirms their nationality. They are required to provide evidence of lawful immigration status in the UK, in the same way as other foreign nationals. The only exception to this is Irish citizens, who continue to have a continuous right to rent. They can prove their right to rent using their passport or passport card, as listed in this user guide.