From Monday February 1 2016 Landlords will have to perform Right to Rent checks on all prospective tenants.
You must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent your residential property in England if their tenancy starts on or after 1 February 2016.
The checks can be made within 28 days before the start of a new tenancy agreement authorising occupation.
Right to Rent responsibilities do not end with checking prospective tenants’ immigration status. There is also a duty to copy documents such as passports, and keep the documents throughout the tenancy and for one year afterwards.
The Right to Rent regime, under the Immigration Act 2014, carries civil penalties of up to £3,000 fines.
How to make a check
- Check which adults will live at your property as their only or main home.
- See the original documentsthat allow the tenant to live in the UK.
- Check that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present.
- Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.
Check their original documents
When you’re 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, eg marriage certificate or divorce decree
If the tenant is arranging their tenancy from overseas, you must see their original documents before they start living at the property.
Read the guidance on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation.
Make a copy of the documents
When you copy the documents:
- make a copy that can’t be changed, eg a photocopy
- for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (eg nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, eg 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 they’re your tenants and for one year after.
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 get a fine (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. You might be fined if you don’t.