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Right to Rent rules introduced from 1st February 2016

Under the Immigration Act 2014, new rules are applicable.  It will be compulsory for private landlords and agents to carry out immigration checks on all prospective tenants, at the outset of their tenancy.

This means that landlords and letting agents must check that all new tenants, are permitted to rent a property in England.  This includes students,  if their tenancy starts on or after 1st February 2016. An adult will not be authorised to occupy a property, as their only or main home, unless it has first been established that the adult has a right to reside in the UK. Landlords are now required to check the identification of everyone who is over 18 years of age and expected to occupy the property, whether they are named in the tenancy agreement or not. This applies to all types of tenancy agreement, written or oral or silently by conduct.

What is a ‘Right to Rent’?

In simple terms, a ‘Right to Rent’ means that the occupier has a right to rent a property in the UK. Anyone without such a right is disqualified from renting. There are two different groups who have a right to rent – those with a permanent right, and those with a time-limited right. Each group has different requirements.

Who has a permanent ‘right to rent’?

Those that have a permanent right to rent are: –

  • British UK citizens; European Economic Area nationals (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden including Swiss nationals).
  • People who have a right of abode in the UK;
  • People who have been granted indefinite leave to remain;
  • People who have no time limit on their stay in the UK.

Landlords are only required to check those with a permanent ‘right to rent’ – once,  before the tenancy commences.

Who has a time-limited right to rent?

People who are not British citizens, EEA or Swiss nationals but who: –

  • have valid leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time;
  • are entitled to enter or remain in the UK as a result of Acts of Parliament, European Union Treaties and Immigration Regulations (e.g. family members of EEA nationals).

Currently, for people with a time-limited right to rent, landlords need to keep a record of when that time-limit expires. Landlords must ultimately check within 28 days of the tenant’s right to rent expiring. Alternatively, the landlord should check within 28 days of the 12 month anniversary of the previous right to rent check, if it falls on a later date. This should then show that the tenant has a right to remain in the property.

Some tenancies are exempt from ‘right to rent’ checks. E.g. tenancies longer than seven years, where there is no tenancy break clause; tenancies to students, where the educational institution has placed the tenant in the property (known as head-leasing); holiday lets, mobiles homes, and those whose accommodation is provided by their employer (also known as tied-accommodation).

If a tenant wishes to sublet a property, that tenant (also known as an inferior landlord) will usually be responsible for checking the right to rent status of any sub-tenants.  Superior landlords may still perform ‘right to rent’ checks, provided they have a written agreement with the first tenant, who is sub-letting.

So, be warned, when looking for your student accommodation, you’ll be asked to provide certain information, such as:

  1. Confirmation that the property you wish to live in will be your only or main home;
  2. Original versions of one or more acceptable documents, for all adult occupiers and these documents will be checked in your presence;
  3. Copies of your documents will be made and retained, with the date on which the checks were made.

Checks will then be made to check that you do indeed have a right to rent a property.

In summary

Terms of business:

Letting Agents must perform checks in accordance with Right to Rent regulations to include making photocopies of passports showing expiry dates, applicant’s details and endorsements (e.g. work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK), biometric residence permits (both sides) and any other relevant documents.  All copies must be marked with the date on which they were copied.  Records must be retained for a minimum period of six years.

Tenancy agreement:

Must provide relevant documentation in accordance with the Right to Rent regulations.  Original documentation must be presented and landlords or their agents must be permitted to make copies.  These copies must be retained for a minimum period of six years.  Acceptable documentation are passports including any endorsements (e.g. work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK), biometric residence permits and any other relevant documentation.

Make a copy of the documents (These documents MUST be seen in PERSON by agents or landlords performing the checks)

  • 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 (e.g. nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, e.g. 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.

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