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‘Right to Rent Checks’ for Residential Landlords

Napthens - February 23rd 2016

From 1st February 2016 all private residential landlords and agents (including those who sub-let or take in lodgers) are prohibited from allowing certain people to rent their properties.

Under the Immigration Act 2014, landlords are prohibited from allowing an adult to occupy a residential property unless one of the following applies:

  1. The occupier is a British citizen; or
  2. The occupier is an EEA or Swiss National; or
  3. The occupier has a right to rent in the UK.

It is important to note that this does not only apply to an individual that may take a tenancy and become a tenant, it also applies to all those who are 18 years old or above who will occupy the property as their only or main residence.

In order to ensure that a landlord or agent complies with the requirements under the Act, they should request and obtain details of all those who are to live at the property along with documentary evidence that they are entitled to live in the UK.

The Act sets out exactly what documentary evidence will be appropriate in two groups. Group 1 is split into two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A contains documents such as UK passports and VISAs which are not limited in time. Any one of these documents will be sufficient on its own to satisfy the right to rent checks. Part B documents include a UK birth certificate, UK driving licence or a Criminal Record Bureau check. At least two of the documents from this part are required. Group 2 are those which show that a person has a right to rent but for a limited time.

It is a requirement that a landlord or agent sees the originals of these documents and inspects them to ensure they aren’t forgeries. Copies should then be taken and kept for up to one year after the end of the tenancy.

For those potential tenants who have no documents, there is a Home Office Landlord Checking Service available. This service aims to respond with a confirmation of whether the person has a right to rent within 2 working days of the request and will also confirm whether any further checks are required prior to granting the tenancy.

Top Tips to ensure compliance

  1. Get the details of all the people who will be occupying the property. All those who are 18 or over will need to be checked.
  2. Ensure that you check the originals of all the documents provided under Group 1 or Group 2. Make sure the documents are sufficient and satisfy yourself that they aren’t forgeries.
  3. Take copies of all documents which are purported to satisfy the right to rent checks.
  4. For those potential tenants who do not have documentary evidence, check them with the Home Office Landlord Checking Service and ensure you comply with any further checks they specify.

If in doubt take legal advice. Our Commercial Property Team can assist you with compliance.