Landlords in England are legally obligated to make sure that their tenants have the right to reside in the UK before providing them with rented accommodation. This is known as the Right to Rent Plan, which provides a framework for landlords to confirm that all potential tenants have the legal right to rent in the UK. The checks should be a simple component of any new lease, but landlords who don't comply with the rules can face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant or even imprisonment. Applicants who are disqualified from renting in the UK are not allowed to occupy rental property.
Landlords must obtain, verify, and record the required documentation from all adults who intend to occupy their property. These checks are necessary to verify both the identity of the tenants and their immigration status. Right to rent checks only apply to leases operating in England; landlords operating elsewhere in the UK are not subject to the same legislation. When renting property in England, landlords now have a legal responsibility to check the applicant's immigration status and, at the same time, to ensure that they avoid illegal discrimination against potential tenants.
If a tenant has documentation to indicate that they meet one or more of these criteria, they can be considered to have the right to rent in the UK. Checks on the right to rent must be carried out for all adults before the start of the lease. The controls apply to anyone who lives on the property, whether or not they appear on the lease agreement. It's important for landlords to remember that checks are still mandatory, even if they're renting out their property to a family member or friend.
If a tenant subleases a property in exchange for rent, he becomes an owner in his own right and is responsible for verifying the right to rent of anyone he subleases it to. This is also true for landlords who rent part or all of their main home out for payment. Leasing agents and third parties can be used by landlords to verify the right to rent on their behalf. Checks of the right to rent must be carried out before entering into a lease agreement with a potential tenant.
Any adult over 18 years of age who is going to occupy the property must be verified, whether they appear on the lease or not. When a potential tenant has a limited-time rental right, checks must be carried out no later than 28 days before the start of the lease. It's also important for landlords to schedule a follow-up check in cases where the tenant's limited-time rental right expires while still occupying the property. First, landlords must obtain original documentation from all adults who intend to occupy the property. Scanned copies or photos of originals are not considered sufficient, so it's important for landlords to physically check original documents in person (although exceptions were made during the coronavirus pandemic).
Where there may be variations between documents, a sufficient reason must be provided along with documentation and supporting evidence. The Ministry of Interior has drawn up a detailed list of acceptable documents that can be taken into account when verifying the right to rent. These documents can be divided into those that prove an unlimited rental right (List A) and those that demonstrate a rental right limited in time (List B). People can consult their own register of rental rights from this ministry and then choose to share this information with landlords by providing a shared code. The stock code, when included along with the potential tenant's date of birth, can provide landlords with access to information about their right to rent. As this service is provided in real time by central office, it eliminates the need for landlords to check details in person.
While this service can be useful in some circumstances, manually verifying the right to rent is often easier. Landlords must also keep track of all checks that are being carried out and securely store this information until at least 12 months after the end of the lease. They must produce clear copies of each document and store them in an unalterable format, along with recording when each document was verified. Finally, while landlords can encourage potential tenants to use an online service for verifying their right to rent, it's not possible for them to insist on this method. Landlords must carry out simple checks applicable for everyone - including British citizens - to ensure that they comply with their legal obligations.