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Right to Rent Checks in England

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“Right to Rent” checks are a legal requirement for prospective tenants and landlords in England. Introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014, these checks serve as a government mandate requiring landlords to verify the immigration status of their tenants. For some the process can feel daunting and shrouded in confusion. So, let’s look at what the Right to Rent is and why it happens.

Right to Rent background

Right to Rent checks became mandatory across England in February 2016. They require landlords to confirm that any occupier of their rented property has a right to rent it. This can be either permanent or may last for a specific period of time. Anyone without it cannot rent and is not permitted to occupy a rental property.

Purpose of Right to Rent checks

The primary goal of Right to Rent checks is to comply with legal requirements, ensuring that landlords rent their properties to individuals who have the correct visa requirements and who can commit to and pay for their rental accommodation.

The process of these checks

In practical terms, Right to Rent checks are a routine part of the rental agreement process.

Checks must be carried out before a tenancy agreement is signed and require landlords or letting agents to:

  • Request and review original documentation that proves each prospective tenant has the right to live in the UK, such as a passport or a residence permit.
  • Check the validity of these documents in the presence of each prospective tenant.
  • Retain copies of the documents and record the date of the check.

How long do Right to Rent checks take?

This can vary, but the initial verification process typically takes place in a single meeting.

The key factor is the availability and validity of a tenant’s documentation.

In certain circumstances landlords, or letting agents, will be required to do follow-up checks in instances where there is an expiry date on a tenant’s UK visa, for example.

Checks are applied universally, regardless of nationality or residency status, so preparing the necessary documentation in advance and being aware of your rights as a tenant and responsibilities when renting is important.

Benefits of these checks

Checks ensure that all tenancy agreements are legally compliant.

For landlords and professional letting agents, it’s a measure of due diligence, protecting them against potential legal ramifications.

As a tenant, it reinforces the legality of your tenancy, providing peace of mind. If a landlord or letting agent does not carry out these checks when you go to rent a property then this should be a red flag of how to spot a rogue estate agent, so be warned.

When renting look for a reputable letting agent – Propertymark accredited members are qualified and regulated to a code of conduct above what the current law demands. They are also fully versed on all the legislative requirements when renting property.

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Last Updated: March 8th, 2024

Phil Spencer

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