The right to rent legislation introduced in February 2016, means that all landlords now need to check their potential tenants’ right to rent a property.

These measures are part of the Immigration Act and were put in place to eradicate landlords renting to multiple people, therefore creating poor living conditions.

Anyone letting a property in England must check the rights and identities of all potential tenants. So, if you’re a landlord, follow our right to rent guide before you hand over those keys and make sure you’re compliant.

Who do I need to check?

You must check all prospective tenants aged 18 or over before you create a tenancy agreement. Remember to check all of your tenants that fall into this category – it is against the law to only check people you think are not British citizens.

If the tenant has a restriction on the amount of time they’re allowed to stay in the country you need to make your checks within a certain timeframe. In this instance, your checks need to made within 28 days of tenancy commencement.

Follow this guide for checking Commonwealth citizens with incorrect documents, as they may still be able to rent your property.

Gov.uk guidelines state you don’t need to make a right to rent check for tenants living in the following:

  • Social housing
  • Care homes, hospices or hospitals
  • Hostels or refuges
  • Mobile homes
  • Student accommodation

There are many factors to be aware of, so it’s a good idea to become as clued up as possible to ensure you don’t trip yourself up.

How do I carry out a right to rent check?

  • Find out who will be living in the property
  • Gather the accepted documents that allow their UK residency (must be original)
  • Check over the documents with the tenant or tenants present
  • Make copies of the documentation you have been provided with and keep them on file

Accepted single documentation includes a UK passport, an EEA or identity card and UK immigration status documents with unlimited leave.

If your prospective tenant doesn’t have any of the single accepted documents there is also a list of accepted document combinations to look over.

This Home Office user guide details all possible accepted documents and document combinations – consult this to avoid any grey areas.

What will happen if I don’t follow the right to rent legislation?

The penalties are tough for illegally renting to a tenant – you could go to prison for five years or receive an unlimited fine.

You are liable if your tenant didn’t have permission to stay, or even enter the UK in the first place, if their leave expired or if their papers were illegitimate.

This is why it’s so important that you conduct your checks in the proper way and also further protect yourself by keeping copies.

Find a full rundown of the fines and penalties associated with illegal renting here.

Further help

There’s help at hand if you’re unsure whether the documents you’ve been provided with are legitimate, or if you have any further questions.

You can receive advice from the landlord’s helpline set up by the government via 0300 069 9799. This line is open Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 4:45 pm and on a Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

Now you know all the basics of what makes you compliant, you’re ready to rent out a room. Check out Badi to find out where to start.