Right to Rent Scheme: What is it? What does it mean for landlords and tenants?

The Right to Rent scheme was brought in by the Government in 2016. It means that landlords are responsible for checking that their tenants have a legal right to rent a home in the UK.

The scheme was brought in as part of the Immigration Act to help identify illegal migrants.

Who has the Right to Rent?

British citizens, people from the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland all have the Right to Rent – as does anyone that has been given ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK.

Other people might have a time-limited right to rent. For example, a student might have an 11 month visa to study in the UK.

How do I check?

The check needs to happen at least 28 days before the start of a new tenancy. You need to check information for any tenant over 18, even if their name isn’t on the tenancy agreement. First, confirm that the tenant will be using your home as their main residence.

Then you need to get documents from the tenant that verify their identity and their right to rent in the UK. Documents could include a passport, driving licence or birth certificate. If the tenant is time-limited, they should show you a residence card, visa or immigration status.

There’s useful information on how to check the documents on the UK Government website.

You need to note the date when you did the checks and keep copies of the documents for at least 12 months after the tenancy ends.

Rules for time-limited tenants

If your tenant is time-limited, make a note of their deadline to return home. You need to do a follow-up check before that date to see if their situation has changed. You should also look at and copy the tenant’s documents again 12 months after your first check.

If your follow-up check reveals your tenant no longer has the right to rent, they need to leave your property and you have to report it to the Home Office. Information about doing this is available here.

What if they are currently applying for immigration?

If this is the case, the Home Office will run a free right to rent check on your behalf. The details of how to do this are given here.

What happens if I ignore the right to rent rules?

If you’re found to be renting a home to someone who doesn’t have the right to rent in the UK – and you can’t prove you carried out the correct checks – you could be fined up to £3,000.

Is there an easy way around this?

Some landlords use a lettings agency to manage their property. In this instance, although the agent is primarily responsible for the Right to Rent check along with looking at references and credit history, you, as the landlord are still liable for ensuring the individual/family renting your property is eligible to live in the UK and has provided the correct documentation and the correct paperwork has been completed. 

This is why choosing a trustworthy, reputable letting agent to manage your property, such as Progressive Lets is key – they will ensure the Right to Rent check is completed and provide you with all the necessary documentation to back it up.