Government announces “right to rent” landlord immigration checks on tenants will to apply to whole of England from 1 February 2016

The government has confirmed that from 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to check that new tenants have a legal right to be in the UK before renting out their property to the tenant.

The Immigration Act 2014 received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 paving the way for rules which prohibit private landlords of residential properties from allowing certain people to occupy those properties based on the immigration status of the occupiers.

In accordance with this new legislation, from 1 February 2106 Landlords will have a duty to check the status of prospective tenants, and other authorised occupiers, to ascertain whether they have the right to occupy the premises before granting a tenancy.

A person is disqualified from occupying property under a residential tenancy agreement if they:

  • Are not a “relevant national”, which is:

a British citizen;

a national of an EEA State; or

a national of Switzerland.

  • Do not have a right to rent in relation to the property. A person does not have a right to rent if they require leave to enter or remain in the UK and do not have it, or they have leave but it is subject to conditions that prevent them from occupying the premises.

Landlords must also make sure that someone’s right to occupy the premises does not lapse.

Breaching these requirements could lead to a fine of up to £3,000.

The Home Office has published user guides on carrying out right to rent document checks ahead of its right to rent policy coming into force in the whole of England from 1 February 2016.

Some landlords have expressed concerns that they are unsure of the documentation that they will need to obtain. The aim of this guide is to address some of those concerns. The guide provides:

  • A visual guide to each document which can be accepted as evidence of right to rent, either in isolation or in combination.
  • A “frequently asked questions” section to address some common queries.
  • A checklist.