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Right to Rent Checks
What is a Right to Rent Check?
In the UK, the responsibility for checking the residential status of a tenant can often fall on the landlord or letting agent. As will be outlined below, there are many types of residential statuses in the UK, and this can lead to confusion and costly mistakes if proper due diligence is not taken. To resolve this issue, No Letting Go have introduced a right to rent check service to ensure that the necessary steps have been taken to perform these checks, thus reliving the burden that has been placed on property owners shoulders.
The Cost of Non-Compliance
The fine for renting property to those who do not have the right to do so can be a costly affair. This could be up £1,000 for a first offence and up to a further £3,000 for further penalties. In some circumstances you could even receive a 5-year prison sentence with an unlimited fine! Full details of the penalties for renting can be found on the Government Website. What is clear is that this is an area where you do not want to cut corners and leave yourself exposed!
What is Meant by Right to Rent in the United Kingdom?
Right to rent refers to a government initiative to require all landlords in the United Kingdom to perform due diligence to check that their tenants have a legal status to live in the UK. This is why before you can rent a home, either the landlord or letting agent will ask to see a tenant’s passport and carry out immigration checks before renting the property.
When Would a Tenant be Subjected to These Checks?
This was introduced with the aim of making it incredibly difficult for people to rent property in the UK without the correct legal status to do so. As a result, any private tenant in England with a tenancy after 1st February 2016 as their main home must prove they have the right to live in the country. As of the time of writing this does not include tenancies in the rest of the UK until further work with devolved administrations has been completed.
Carrying out a Right to Rent Check
For a right to rent check to be completed, the landlord or letting agent must perform the following steps:
Check an original item of identification to ensure that they have the right to live in UK legally. A list of current acceptable items can be found on the Government Website and include documents such as a UK/EU passport and a permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain.
These documents must be checked for every adult occupier in the property aged 18 or over. This is the case for all occupants, whether they are named on the tenancy agreement or not.
Copies of these documents must be made and stored securely throughout the course of the tenancy and for a period of 1 year after termination.
Follow up checks must be carried out when immigrations statuses are subject to time restrictions such a student visa.
Return the original documents to their rightful owners on completion of the checks.
Are There any Exceptions?
The purpose of this guide is to give a brief overview of the requirements of landlords and letting agents when it comes to the legal status of their tenants in the UK. There are many more extensions or alterations to the law in different circumstances such as sub-letting, overseas renters and changes to immigration statuses during the course of tenancies. The home office have put together A short guide on right to rent which goes into more detail. At No Letting Go we are always happy to help and would urge you to get in touch should you have any further questions or queries regarding this article.