Right to Rent legislation for landlords

On 1st February 2016, new Right to Rent legislation for landlords came into effect that put rather onerous responsibilities onto landlords of private residential properties in England and, of course, onto us, their instructed agents!

Called ‘Right to Rent’ it places a new responsibility on landlords, or their instructed agents, to carry out a series of checks to ensure any tenant, or permitted occupiers aged 18 or over, have the legal right to rent and reside in the UK. The checks must be completed prior to the tenant taking up occupation and a record of the checks must be retained and saved appropriately.

For those found to have time-limited permission to reside in the UK, then the Landlord or instructed agent, will need to verify that this is valid and current, as well as be required to carry out a further check just prior to the expiry date given for their right to stay in the UK, or 12 months after the previous check – whichever comes first.

right to rent legislation for landlords houses graphic

Failure to demonstrate that the appropriate Right to Rent checks and procedures were carried out, could result in a fine of up to £3,000 for the Landlord or their agent.

What does the ‘Right to Rent’ check involve for landlords?

The check requires the submission of, and permission granted for copies to be taken of two or more original authorized documents of the intended resident(s) to be provided. This is typically a passport and/or any relevant certificate or permit granting either an unlimited or time-limited UK stay.

These must be provided in their original, non-tampered state and any inconsistencies (such as a name change through marriage) must also be substantiated with the appropriate paperwork.

The Tenant(s) will be required to present these in person prior to commencing the tenancy, to allow the agent or Landlord to ascertain if the photographic ID is a true likeness, for dates of birth to be checked for consistency and likeness, and to enable an authorized copy to be taken and retained as proof the check was carried out.

Where a time limited right to stay is issued, a further check will need to be carried out within either 28 days prior to the stated expiry date, or just prior to 12 months on from the initial check – whichever comes first.

For more information on types of acceptable documents, please visit this Right to Rent Guide by the Home Office

In my opinion the legislative requirements are exhaustive and exhausting! As letting agents we have so, so much administration to do already as part of the process of letting our clients’ properties – this just adds more work and is actually very time consuming and adds further pressure to the already stressful process for both Landlords and Tenants alike.

Liz Thomson
Director – Head of Lettings