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June 29, 2022
January 18, 2022

Checking a Tenant's Right to Rent

Written by
Steve Sims

With changes taking place in April, we've compiled everything landlords need to know on checking a tenants right to rent.

some wooden houses sitting on a white surface on a white background

Table of contents

Landlords in England must check that their tenant or lodger has the right to live in the country under Right to Rent laws.

Not only do the complicated rules make landlords act as unpaid and unqualified Border Force staff, but they also come with a list of circumstances when they do and don't apply that can easily catch the unwary and lead to a hefty fine.

It's an offence to rent a property to someone in England who cannot produce the required documents or fails the landlord's checking service.

Who must landlords check for Right to Rent?

Before a tenancy starts, landlords must check if everyone over 18 years old has the Right to Rent a home in England. As a result, the check should include every adult living at the property, even if not named on the tenancy agreement. If there is no tenancy agreement or the agreement is not in writing then landlords must still carry out the check.

When doing so, don't forget you cannot discriminate against anyone because they are not British. So every tenant must be checked, including British citizens. But you don't have to check students or renters taking on a mobile home or tied accommodation.

How to check Right to Rent

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how Right to Rent checks are carried out. As a result, the procedure has changed several times over the past two years in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of this, this guide is based on the latest information from the government.

You can check Right to Rent in two ways:

  • Checking original documents
  • Asking for digital documents and checking them online with a share code

Checking original documents

This check is a four-step process:

  • List the people aged over 18 who intend to live in the rental home
  • Ask the for original documents proving they have the right to live in the UK
  • Check the documents are genuine and belong to the renters with the relevant people present
  • Keep copies of all the documents and take a photo of the prospective tenants with your phone

Secretary making copies or scanning papers on photocopier

Making copies

Landlords can scan or photograph documents. Copy every passport page bearing the applicant's details, expiry date and nationality. DO not forget to copy other pages with endorsements, such as UK work visas and certificates of entitlement which offer the right to live in England.

What you need to check for

Landlords should check the documents for:

  • The documents are original and belong to the tenant
  • Any permission to stay in the UK is valid
  • Photos on the documents are of the tenant
  • Dates of birth match on all documents and are believable
  • Documents are not too damaged or do not look like they've been changed
  • If the names are different on documents, ask for other documents showing why, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree

Extra checks when renewing a tenancy

Do these extra checks if you are renewing a tenancy to confirm the property is the renter's only or main home by asking if:

  • They live there most of the time
  • They keep most of their belongings there
  • Their partner or children live with them
  • They're registered to vote at the property
  • They're registered with the doctor using that addressed with the doctor using that address

Share codes and digital documents

Right to Rent rules change again from April 6 which means landlords cannot accept Biometric Residence Cards (BRC), Biometric Residence Permits(BRP) or Frontier Worker Permits (FWP). Instead, these document checks must be completed online.

To access the service, landlords must have the tenant's date of birth and a share code that the tenant generates through the web service. Tenants with these cards should also provide proof of settled or pre-settled status, and have their ID documents scanned through the UK Immigration ID Check app for smartphones.

Retro Vintage Stamps In A European Passport From Multiple Locations - you need to show documents such as a passport when proving Right to Rent

Follow-on Right to Rent checks

If a tenant has a time-limited right to rent, landlords must carry out follow-on checks to ensure the check is still valid. The follow-on check should take place before the end of the tenant's permission to stay or 12 months after the previous check, regardless of the tenancy's renewal date. If the permission to stay is unlimited, do not repeat the check. Once you have done so, tell the Home Office if the tenant has no Right to Rent.

Wrong or missing documents

The Landlord Checking Service helps potential tenants who need the Home Office to confirm their residential status in England because they have an immigration appeal outstanding or the Home Office is holding their papers. Landlords can check the tenant's Right to Rent online or by calling a helpline on 0300 790 6268.

Business contract in male hands with woman sitting in the background

Right to Rent acceptable documents

This is a full list of acceptable documents a potential tenant can offer as proof of Right to Rent.

List A (Group 1): Accept any document from this list:

  • UK passport
  • Registration certificate or document certifying permanent residence for a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national
  • UK Home Office issued EEA family permit or Swiss ID card
  • UK Home Office issued Biometric residence permit for EEA or Swiss national with an unlimited stay
  • Passport or travel document endorsed with unlimited leave to stay
  • UK immigration status endorsed with unlimited leave to stay
  • A certificate of naturalisation or registration as a British citizen

List A (Group 2): Accept any two documents from this list:

  • UK birth or adoption certificate
  • Full or provisional UK driving licence

A letter from:

  • The prison service
  • A UK government department or local authority
  • The National Offender Management Service
  • A police force confirming that Right to Rent documents have been reported stolen
  • The UK further or higher education institution
  • A private rented sector access scheme
  • A UK passport holder working in an acceptable profession
  • Evidence of current or previous service in the UK armed forces
  • Benefits paperwork
  • A criminal record check

List B: Documents that show a time-limited right to rent

  • A valid passport endorsed with a time-limited period
  • A Home Office issued Biometric residence card permit for an EEA or Swiss national
  • A Home Office issued non-EEA national residence card with a time-limited stay
  • UK immigration status document with a time-limited endorsement from the Home Office

Keeping up-to-date with changes in legislation and property can be tasking as a property owner or tenant! At Oasis Living, we use tech and automation to make the letting process more efficient and less hassle for all involved.

We offer premium property management, FAST tenant-find service and even free maintenance call out as a standard. Contact one of our property letting experts today to find out more.

Alternatively, read more about our mission to improve the property letting experience.

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