Guide: Right to Rent

published on 12/04/2022  

The property market can seem like a minefield for first-time landlords to navigate, but one of the primary legal issues to consider when preparing your first property for occupancy is whether your tenants have Right to Rent.

That’s why King’s Lettings have outlined everything you need to know about whether your tenants have the right to rent a property, land or business in the UK.

What is Right to Rent?

Right to Rent is the policy whereby landlords in England are legally required to check that tenants have the right to rent in the UK before they move into a property.

Landlords do not have to perform Right to Rent checks in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Who has the right to rent?

If a tenant has documentation proving they meet one or multiple of the following criteria, then they have the right to rent in the UK:

  • They are a British citizen
  • They have permission from the Home Office to live in the UK including work visas, student visas or have been granted a time-limited right to rent
  • They have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have settled status
  • They have humanitarian protection or qualify under refugee status
It’s illegal to refuse to let based on race, ethnicity and nationality therefore a landlord cannot deny tenancy based solely on the grounds that a tenant is not a British Citizen.

What are Right to Rent checks?

Right to Rent checks is the procedure of checking the documentation of a prospective tenant to ensure they have the right to rent in the UK. These must be conducted on all adult tenants living in the property and apply regardless of whether their name is on the tenancy agreement.

Landlords who don’t check the right to rent of their tenants could face an unlimited fine or go to prison so it’s imperative that these checks are conducted.

How to conduct a Right to Rent check

Right to Rent checks can either be performed manually or through the Home Office’s online service. You should:

  1. Check which adults will be your tenants, these are the ones who use your property as their main home
  2. Ask them for original copies of documents that prove they are permitted to live in the UK. After 6 April 2022, you must ask your tenants for a share code rather than biometric residence permits
  3. Ensure their documents prove their right to rent in the UK.
  4. Check that the tenant’s permission to stay in the UK is still valid, that there is no damage or evidence of tampering to the documents, and that information remains consistent across all submitted documents (if names are different, there should be supporting documents that explain why)
  5. With the tenant present, check that each tenant’s documents are genuine and belong to the tenant
  6. Create and keep copies of the documents and clearly record the date the check was made. You will need to keep these for at least 12 months after the termination of the tenancy

Landlords must keep copies of the following documents for their records:

  • Any page of a passport that contains any and all relevant information regarding identity of the tenant and UK immigration expiry date.
  • Application Registration Card.
  • After 6 April 2022, landlords are no longer allowed to ask for biometric residence cards or permits so these should not be kept as evidence for tenants who are checked after this date.

If you’re still unsure of the process, visit the Home Office’s user guide on Right to Rent documentation.

What to do if a tenant doesn’t have the right documents

If a tenant doesn’t have the right documents, then you will be able to request a Home Office Right to Rent check. They will be allowed Right to Rent if:

  • The Home Office has a copy of their documents
  • They have an appeal with the Home Office that is outstanding
  • They have already been given ‘permission to rent’ by the Home Office

When do you not need to check a tenant’s Right to Rent?

You do not need to check a tenants right to rent if they are letting the following types of accommodation:

  • Social housing or student accommodation
  • Care homes, hospices or hospitals
  • Hostel and refuges
  • Mobile homes
  • Accomodation that is provided by a local authority or as part of their job
  • Has a lease that is 7 years or longer

How do I know if I'm officially a landlord?

You are a landlord if you own a house, apartment, room, land, or real estate that is rented out to a tenant or business under a tenancy agreement.

In these cases, you should check your prospective tenant’s right to rent.

Has Brexit impacted the Right to Rent?

New Right to Rent regulations were introduced after the UK left the EU whereby landlords are now required to check the immigration status of EU citizens rather than nationality. This change came following the introduction of digital checks that provide landlords with a limited or unlimited immigration status for tenants.

What if I use a letting agent?

Lettings agents can still conduct right to rent checks on a landlord’s behalf.

As a landlord, you should create a written agreement as evidence that responsibility for the checks have been passed on to the letting agent to transfer liability for compliance with the checks.

Should you have any further questions about whether you have the Right to Rent in the UK or seek further clarification on Right to Rent checks, feel free to pick up the phone and contact Kings Lettings. Alternatively, visit our Landlord FAQ page to access additional advice for first-time landlords.

Lettings and property management offices in London, Reading, Maidenhead, Staines & Windsor.
T: +44 (0)16 2863 2188 | E: MAIDENHEAD@KINGS-LETTINGS.CO.UK Tags: Right To Rent, Letting Agents, Landlords, Property Management,