Taking a look at the legislation to determine your right to rent

Explaining the concept of 'Right to Rent'

Explaining the concept of 'Right to Rent' - Credit: Archant

Alastair Woodgate of leading local Chartered Surveyors Rumball Sedgwick, considers the incoming ‘right to rent’ legislation.

Can you confirm that your tenant has a right to reside in the UK? If not, you could be in breach of the law.

From 1st February 2016 new ‘Right to Rent’ legislation will change the responsibilities of landlords in England. Land-lords will need to ensure the immigration status of tenants is checked at the outset of the tenancy. If you are found to be letting to someone who is in the UK illegally, and you cannot show you have undertaken checks, you could face a penalty of up to £3,000.

Most letting agents will have been undertaking detailed checks as part of current requirements and as good practice, but these may now need fine tuning to reflect changes in law.

The new rules don’t just apply to Assured Shorthold Tenancies but to all residential tenancies, including agreements with lodgers, with just a few exemptions such as social housing, holiday lets and halls of residence.

‘Right to Rent’ means the occupier has a right to rent a property in the UK. Anyone without it is disqualified from renting. European Economic Area nationals have a permanent right to rent. Some nationalities will have a limited right only: where that right might expire during the tenancy, you will need to make follow-up checks. If a follow-up check shows that a person no longer has the right to be in the UK, you will need to report this to the Home Office.

You should verify all adults who will live in your property as their only or main home, regardless of what you believe their nationality to be. This includes people not named on the tenancy agreement. You cannot authorise anyone to occupy your property as their only or main home unless you can establish that everyone over 18 expected to occupy the property has a right to reside in the UK. You should therefore know the birth dates of any children who may turn 18 during the tenancy and therefore require checking.

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There are various forms of acceptable ID but most landlords will expect prospective occupiers to produce their passport. This is fine provided the passport requirement is not made country specific. However, 12 million people in Britain don’t have passports so some other form of documentation may be required.

As a landlord you are responsible for these checks but you can pass on the obligation to your agent as part of a written agreement. If not set out in writing then the landlord will be responsible.

For further details contact Alastair and his lettings team at Rumball Sedgwick on 01727 852384 or at alastair@rumballsedgwick.co.uk