Right to Rent check changes

Important information for landlords and householders

In August 2019, The Home Office issued updated guidance regarding Right to Rent checks.

Since 20th May 2019, changes to UK Border Force rules have meant that Australians, Canadians, Japanese, New Zealanders, Singaporeans, South Koreans and Americans (a group known as B5JSSK) have been allowed to enter the UK via eGates.

This means that their passports are not endorsed with a stamp and documentation may therefore not satisfy existing Right to Rent check criteria in England.

B5JSSK rights in England

Anyone from the B5JSSK group of countries is allowed to stay in England for up to 6 months and automatically has the Right to Rent for that period.

And this is where the confusion lies. If the tenant has no physical stamp in their passport, how can a landlord check it?

Home Office guidance states:

“If they wish to rent accommodation in the private rented sector as their only or main home, a landlord will be able to establish the individual’s Right to Rent status by checking their passport together with evidence of the date they last travelled to or entered the UK.”

ARLA Propertymark, the UK’s foremost professional and regulatory body for letting agents, has stepped in to give its opinion. In a recent article it says:

‘ARLA Propertymark has significant concerns about the validity of the updated guidance given that it does not reflect the advice given in the Code of Practice and as a result we are urgently seeking reassurance from Government that they are planning to resolve the disparity.’

Until such time that The Home Office releases further information, landlords are advised to refer to the following list of ‘acceptable evidence’ of entry into the UK:

Acceptable evidence

  • An original or copy (hardcopy or electronic copy) of a boarding pass or electronic boarding pass for air, rail or sea travel to the UK, establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.
  • An original or copy (hardcopy or electronic copy) airline, rail or boat ticket or e-ticket establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.
  • An original or copy (hardcopy or electronic copy) of any type of booking confirmation for air, rail or sea travel to the UK establishing the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.
  • Any other documentary evidence that establishes the date of arrival in the UK in the last six months.

If a tenant is unable to present any evidence that establishes the date of their arrival in the UK, landlords may use the Landlord Checking Service to confirm their Right to Rent.

It should be noted that landlords are required by law to keep evidence of Right to Rent checks on file throughout the tenancy and for 12 months after the tenancy ends. After this period, personal data should be securely disposed of.

Do I need to make a Right to Rent check?

Landlords, agents or householders who are letting private rented accommodation or taking in a lodger, should make Right to Rent checks. Anyone who lives in a property as a tenant or occupier who is sub-letting all or part of the property, or takes in a lodger, should also make checks. This applies to anyone living in private or social housing.

Before the start of a new tenancy, you must check all tenants aged 18 and over, even if:

  • They are not named on the tenancy agreement
  • There is no tenancy agreement
  • The tenancy agreement is not in writing.

Please note, it is against the law to only check people you think are not British citizens. It is your responsibility to check all potential tenants.

What are the risks of not carrying out a Right to Rent check?

The new guidance emphasises that landlords, householders and agents should understand the consequences of claiming ignorance of the rules. It is your responsibility to make reasonable enquiries and appropriate checks on all adult occupiers.

If you don’t make the correct checks and you are found to have let your property to someone who does not have a Right to Rent, you will become liable for a civil penalty.

Are there any exceptions to right to rent checks?

The Right to Rent scheme was first introduced on 1st December 2014 in parts of the West Midlands (Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton). On 1st February 2016 it was rolled out across the rest of England. *

Where the start of a tenancy pre-dates the scheme being introduced in your local area, and it is renewed at the same property between the same parties without a break, a Right to Rent check is not required.

* The scheme has yet to be extended to the rest of the UK.

A Right to Rent check involves three steps:

1. Obtain a tenant’s original acceptable documents that allow them to live in the UK.

2. Check the documents with the tenant present.

3. Copy and keep the copied documents on file and record the date of the check.

You can find more information about Right to Rent checks here.

Can I appoint an agent to do Right to Rent checks on my behalf?

If you are a landlord or householder, an agent may carry out checks for you. However, you will need to keep a written agreement that establishes whether or not the agent is also responsible for carrying out follow-up checks and reports.

Landlords and householders are advised to agree timescales for making checks with the agent and also agree how results of the checks will be communicated e.g. written or verbal. Please note, liability for checks cannot be transferred beyond the agent.

If you would like any more information or help with carrying out Right to Rent checks, please get in touch.