Right to rent immigration checks place new burdens on private landlords

Monday, February 1st, 2016 -

Following a pilot study in the West Midlands, new ‘Right to Rent’ immigration checks have been rolled-out across England under the Immigration Act 2014.

Under the new rules, private tenants will be subject to immigration checks before they can take on a new tenancy starting on or after 1 February 2016.

The new tenant vetting arrangements will need to be carried out by private landlords and by homeowners who decide to take in a lodger under the government’s rent a room scheme.

Before the start of a new tenancy, a landlord will need to carry out immigration checks on all adults aged 18 and over who intend to live in the property.

The landlord will have to check original identify documents while the tenant is present, to ensure they have the right to be in the UK. Home Office guidance explains exactly which documents can be accepted.

The landlord must take copies of each document and record the date that the check was carried out. If the Home Office has the tenant’s documents, the landlord can use the Home Office landlord’s checking service to request a Home Office right to rent check. It says an answer will normally be provided within 2 working days.

Landlords who don’t carry out the necessary checks can be fined up to £3,000 if they rent out a property to someone who is in the UK illegally.

Richard Tacagni, Managing Director at London Property Licensing said:

With right to rent checks required for all tenancies starting from today, I would urge private landlords and letting agents to study the rules carefully and seek independent advice if they are unsure what to do.

Even homeowners taking in a lodger under the government’s rent a room scheme risk being caught out by this significant change in the law. With so little publicity, I’m sure there will be many people blissfully unaware of the new requirements“.

More detailed information on the new ‘Right to Rent’ immigration checks can be found in the Resources section of our website, available here.