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Right to Rent: a guide to vetting new tenants

Are you up-to-date on Right to Rent? Here's all you need to know...

One of the most important factors in a trouble-free tenancy is ensuring that your prospective tenant is legally allowed to be in the country and therefore able to rent a property...

All landlords letting a property in England are required to ensure that any person aged 18 or over who is living at the property as their main home has the Right to Rent in the UK. This applies not only to named tenants but to everyone residing at the property irrespective of their relationship with the named tenant. Landlords who fail to comply are in breach of the Immigration Act and face unlimited fines and/or imprisonment. Checks should be completed prior to the commencement of a tenancy.

What is the Right to Rent act? 

Right to Rent checks mean you, as a landlord, need to check the immigration status of your prospective adult tenants by checking ID before the start of a tenancy. It started as a pilot scheme in parts of the West Midlands but has now been rolled out across England since February 2016.

How does the Right to Rent check work?

There have been temporary measures in place during the Covid pandemic but these will no longer apply from the 31st August 2021 and the full Right to Rent measures will be in place. The check involves the potential tenant showing their identity documents in person (commonly a passport and visa, the latter if needed by the individual in question) to a landlord or their agent. The landlord should make a copy of the document(s) and record that the check has been made.

It’s important that the documents that are checked are the originals and that the tenant is present at the checking process. The check needs to be carried out for all the adult tenants that you are renting the property out to and these checks will need to be repeated at the appropriate time, such as when the tenant’s current visa expires.

If it so happens that the tenant no longer has a valid Right to Rent then they must be reported to the Home Office.

What documents are acceptable at a Right to Rent check? 

Acceptable documents that a tenant can use to demonstrate their identity and Right to Rent are dependent on their nationality but include items such as a valid passport, valid VISA or Biometric Residence Permit. A definitive list of these and to whom they are applicable are provided on the UK Government website

What impact has Brexit had on Right to Rent in the UK? 

Certain European nationals have had the same rights as British nationals previously when it comes to rent checks, but from 1st July 2021 Right to Rent checks for members of the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Lichtenstein mean that settled or pre-settled status becomes a requirement. There are some complex nuances and more details are available here at www.gov.uk or through a letting agent.

Want to know more?

Remember, if you fail to do the proper checks, you could be hit with a hefty fine of up to £3,000 per offence. We don’t want this. Whether you're an existing landlord or considering letting your home, our lettings services mean that we can help you comply with Right to Rent and keep you in the clear. We’re just a short call away - contact your local branch and one of our experts will be more than happy to answer any questions.

If you would like to know more about how we find and keep the ideal tenant for you, click here for details.

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