Landlords in England legally need to carry out a ‘right to rent’ check on their potential new tenants before they lease their property. This ‘right to rent’ check was introduced by the Immigration Act in 2014 and aims to stop people that don’t aren’t legal immigrants from being able to rent through private landlords.

Landlords that rent property to people who don’t have the right to rent may find themselves facing a charge of £3,000 per tenant. Not only this but if the landlord did this intentionally, this can be seen as committing a criminal offence according to the Immigration Act 2014. This is why it is so important to conduct right to rent checks which will mean there will be a ‘statutory excuse’ which will protect landlords from facing penalties or charges.

The right to rent and the surrounding legislation can be complicated to navigate, so with this in mind, we have set out a guide to the basics below.

Who needs to conduct a right to rent check?

All landlords that have tenants or lodgers in their need to conduct a right to rent check to ensure that these individuals can rent from you legally.

Tenants that are in the following types of housing do not need to be checked:

When should I carry out a right to rent check?

The right to rent check should be done before the start of the tenancy agreement.

If you cannot check the documents before the tenancy is confirmed and agreed then you can agree to a tenancy in principle but you should keep in mind that you should not confirm the tenancy in principle until after you have checked the documents.

Where your tenant has a time-limited right to rent, your statutory excuse will last until the latest of:

  • The expiry date of their legally allowed time in the UK
  • When their immigration document expires
  • 12 months after the date of the right to rent check

However, if a tenant has an unlimited right to rent, this means that you will have a continuous statutory excuse meaning that you won’t have to do any further checks again in the future.

How can I carry out a right to rent check?

To do a right to rent check you should start by working out which method of right to rent check you will need to use as there are different ways of doing it and you can do it either online or manually.

You can carry out a right to rent check by:

  • Doing the check using the Home Office online service
  • Using an identity service provider
  • Checking your tenant’s original documents

You need to do the right to rent check online if:

If your tenant has none of the above, you will need to do the right to rent check manually.

The first thing to do here is to check your tenant’s original documents that prove that they are legally a UK citizen.

An unlimited right to rent can be established where your tenant has either:

  • A British passport
  • An Irish passport
  • Another travel document that can show that the tenant has the right to live in the U.K.
  • A document given by the authorities of Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man which shows that the holder has been allowed to leave, enter or stay in the UK. This document will need to be checked with the Home Office Landlord Checking Service.
  • A passport of a national of an EEA country
  • A document which shows that the tenant has applied for limited leave to enter or stay in the UK under the EU settlement. Here you will also need to get a ‘Positive Right to Rent Notice’ from the Landlord Checking Service.

After the tenant has given you their documents, you should look at them to check if the tenant has the right to rent. Here you must check the following:

  • That they are legally allowed to be in the UK
  • That the photos on the documents are of the tenant
  • That the documents are in good condition
  • That the documents are legal
  • That all dates are the same and are accurate

After you have checked the documents, it is worthwhile to keep copies of them. It is also important that you write down the date that you have done the right to rent check.

A right to rent check is incredibly important, but there is a lot to take into consideration and it is vital to do it in the right way. To receive a quote for legal support, email