Landlords to Conduct Right to Rent Checks on New Tenants
As part of the Immigration Bill of 2015/2016, from February 2016, landlords must ensure all new tenants have the right to reside in the UK before letting their properties to them.
Evidence must be seen, copied and held for 12 months after the tenancy has ended. Acceptable documents include:
- A passport or national identity card for the UK, EU countries or Switzerland
- A Home Office document granting indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence
- A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen
- Passports or immigration documents of other nationalities granting the holder limited time to remain in the UK
You don’t have to be an expert at detecting forgeries, but if someone hands you a piece of scrap paper hand written that says “Bob can live in the UK”, you can call the Home Office for a “right to rent check” which should come back with a yes/no within 2 days.
If your tenant has limited entry to the UK, you must check for new documents after the expiry of their right to remain in the UK and continue to do so throughout their tenancy.
There are exemptions from the check such as children, social housing tenants recommended by the council, your employees (who should have been checked through your business anyway), holiday lets of less than 3 months, commercial lets, homeless accommodation, student halls of residence and leases without a break clause of 7 years or more.
Failure to carry out these checks can lead to a fine of £1,000 per tenant for a first time offence then up to £3,000 per tenant and possible 5 year prison sentence for future offences.
Of course, many landlords use agents so a written agreement can be made stating that the agent is responsible for these checks and failure to carry out the checks will result in the agent being responsible for any fine incurred but as always, it is best for a landlord to check through a tenants paperwork before a tenant moves in.