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Landlords must check new tenant’s right to rent

For all new residential tenancies after 1 February 2015, Landlords must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent your residential property in England.

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

Please note that tenants in some types of accommodation (e.g. social housing and care homes) will not need to be checked.

To read the Government guide on “Right to Rent Document Checks”, visit the website here.


How to check

  1. Check which adults will live at your property as their only or main home.
  2. See the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK.
  3. Check that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present.
  4. Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.

You can be fined up to £3,000 for renting your property to someone who is not allowed to rent property in England.


Check if the property is used as the tenant’s only or main home

A property would usually be a tenant’s only or main home if they satisfy any or all of the following:

  • they live there most of the time
  • they keep most of their belongings there
  • their partner or children live with them
  • they’re registered to vote at the property
  • they’re registered with the doctor using that address


Check their original documents

When you are with the tenant, you need to check that:

  • the documents are originals and belong to the tenant
  • the dates for the tenant’s right to stay in the UK haven’t expired
  • the photos on the documents are of the tenant
  • the dates of birth are the same in all documents (and are believable)
  • the documents aren’t too damaged or don’t look like they’ve been changed
  • if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why, e.g. marriage certificate or divorce decree

If the tenant is arranging their tenancy from overseas, you must ensure that you see their original documents before they start living at the property.


Make a copy of the documents

When you copy the documents:

  • make a copy that can’t be changed, e.g. a photocopy
  • for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (e.g. nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, e.g. a work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
  • copy both sides of biometric residence permits
  • make a complete copy of all other documents
  • record the date you made the copy

Keep copies of the tenant’s documents for the time that they are your tenants for up to one year after, making sure that you comply with data protection law.


Further checks

You must make a further check on your tenant to make sure they can still stay in the UK if their permission to stay is time limited.  You can be fined (also known as a civil penalty) if you don’t make a further check and your tenant’s permission to stay runs out.

You must make a further check just before either:

  • the expiry date of your tenant’s right to stay in the UK
  • 12 months after your previous check

You won’t have to make a further check if your tenant doesn’t have any time restrictions on their right to stay in the UK.


If your tenant doesn’t pass a further check

You must tell the Home Office if you find out that your tenant can no longer legally rent property in England after making a further check.  If you do not report it you may be fined.

You can choose to evict your tenant if you want to.  However, you must follow the proper rules and procedure for evicting tenants.

If you have a lodger, you can choose to end your tenancy agreement with them.  How much notice you give your lodger will depend on which type of tenancy they have.


Agents and subletting

You can ask any agents that manage or let your property to carry out the check for you.  You should have this agreement in writing.

If a tenant sub-lets the property without you knowing, they are responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants.  They will liable for any civil penalties if they don’t do the check correctly.

For information on this or any other tenant eviction issue, please contact landlord lawyer Yvonne Thomas on 0115 9 100 235 or click here to send an email.

Posted on February 10, 2016

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