Right to Rent: a guide for landlords

Mon 15th Feb 2016

Coodes Partner and Commercial Property lawyer Paula Dunkley outlines what landlords need to do to ensure they comply with the new ‘Right to Rent’ legislation.

On 1st February, new legislation came into force, making landlords in England responsible for checking their tenants can legally rent a property or a room. If you rent a room in your house, or a whole property, you must make checks at least 28 days before the start of a new tenancy. It is vital that you carry out these checks. If you don’t, you can risk fines of up to £3,000.

The media has reported some confusion among landlords about whether or not checks need to be made for everyone. The rules are that checks must be carried out on anyone aged 18 and over living in your property, whether they’re named in the tenancy agreement or not. This applies to all types of tenancy agreements, written or oral. There are some minor exceptions to the rules, such as people residing in social housing or care homes.

This is how you should make a check:

  1. Check which adults will live at your property as their only or main home. This means one or more of the following:
  • they live there most of the time
  • they keep most of their belongings there
  • their partner or children live with them
  • they’re registered to vote at the property
  • they’re registered with the doctor using that address

2. See the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK. When you’re with the tenant, you need to check that:

  • the documents are originals and belong to the tenant
  • the dates for the tenant’s right to stay in the UK haven’t expired
  • the photos on the documents are of the tenant
  • the dates of birth are the same in all documents (and are believable)
  • the documents aren’t too damaged or don’t look like they’ve been changed
  • if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why, e.g. marriage certificate or divorce decree

If the tenant is arranging their tenancy from overseas, you must see their original documents before they start living at the property.

3. Check that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present.

4. Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check:

  • make a copy that can’t be changed, e.g. a photocopy
  • for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (eg nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, eg a work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
  • copy both sides of biometric residence permits
  • make a complete copy of all other documents
  • record the date you made the copy

Keep copies of the tenant’s documents for the time they’re your tenants and for one year after.

You could get be fined if you don’t make a further check and your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK runs out. To avoid this, you must make a further check just before either the expiry date of your tenant’s right to stay in the UK or 12 months after your previous check. You won’t have to make a further check if your tenant doesn’t have any time restrictions on their right to stay in the UK.

If your tenant doesn’t pass a further check you must tell the home office if you find out that your tenant can no longer legally rent property in England after making a further check. You might be fined if you don’t.

You can ask any agents that manage or let your property to carry out the check for you. You should have this agreement in writing.

If a tenant sub-lets the property without you knowing, they’re responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants. They will liable for any civil penalties if they don’t do the check correctly.

The Government guide on making a check is available here.

For any advice in relation to your responsibilities as a landlord, please contact the team on 01872 246200 or info@coodes.co.uk

Mon 15th Feb 2016

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