If you are a landlord with a tenancy starting on or after 01 February 2016 you will need to check that your tenants have the right to rent in the UK, based on their immigration status or face a £3000 civil penalty. You will also need to review their right to rent where their status is time limited.
If you are a landlord then from 1st February 2016 you will be under an obligation to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before you rent your property to them.
This stems from the Immigration Act 2014 which prohibits landlords from renting to persons who do not have the right to rent in the UK, based on their immigration status.
The Immigration Act defines three types of prospective tenant:
1) Those who have a an UNLIMITED right to rent e.g. British Citizen, EEA, Swiss, leave to remain
2) Those who have a TIME LIMITED right to rent e.g.. student visa
3) Those who have NO right to rent
This applies to residential tenancies where the tenant will use your properly and their main home and includes AST, licences and lodgers but does not apply to long leases (more than 7 years) holiday lets, mobile homes, tied accommodation.
The responsibility to do the check lies with the Landlord or, if by written agreement, the landlord's agent.
There are three ways to establish an excuse to the prohibition;
1) Conduct initial right to rent checks, and no sooner than 28 days before the start of that tenancy;
2) Conduct follow-up checks if occupier has a time-limited right to rent;
3) Make a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the right to rent.
How to make a check
1. You must see the originals of the documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK.
2. You must ensure, to the best of your ability that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant so you should check documents with the tenant present.
3. You should keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.
4. You must make a further check if your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK is time limited, that check should be the sooner of
- Just before the expiry date of your tenant’s right to stay in the UK
- Within 12 months of your previous check
The Home Office have issued Guidance for Landlords about the checks and further information can be found here