In response to all the furore over immigration in the UK in recent years, the government has introduced what it is called the ‘right to rent’ checks. These are essentially, a set of checks that are intended to determine whether someone who wants to rent a property has the right to do so. The requirements to make sure that someone has the right to rent is being placed at the door of landlords who will soon be responsible for spotting illegal immigrants trying to become tenants. The process has already been trialed in destinations around the country and is set to become a requirement for the whole of the UK from February 2016.
Who needs to make the checks?
Those who are obliged to carry out these checks include private landlords, anyone who has a lodger, anyone who is sub-letting a property, as well as agents who have been appointed by a landlord to carry out these checks.
Are there any housing categories that are excluded?
Yes, accommodation provided in care homes, hospitals and hospices is exempt, as are refuges and hostels, social housing and any accommodation that has been provided by local authorities. Mobile homes are also excluded from this requirement.
What will the checks consist of?
Where the check is carried out it should be used to establish that the adult tenant or tenants will live in the property as their only or main home. The tenant will need to provide original documents that demonstrate a right to be in the UK and the person carrying out the check will need to make sure of the validity of the document with the tenant present. Finally, the person making the check will be required to make a copy of the check document and to note when the check was carried out.
What are the consequences for tenants?
Tenants should now expect to be asked to prove a right to rent i.e. a right to be in the UK. Many have raised concerns that the new law will simply result in landlords refusing to rent to minorities – even those who could prove a right to rent when asked – in order to avoid having to carry out the checks or risk making a mistake. The introduction of these checks also means that sub-letting will become an even more precarious option – landlords are likely to crack down on any sub-letting to avoid problems that could arise from a tenant subletting to someone without the right to rent.
What documents can be used to prove a right to rent?
- UK passport
- EEA passport or identity card
- permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain
- Home Office immigration status document
- certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen
What are the consequences of not carrying out the checks?
If a property is rented out to someone who is in the UK illegally because the landlord has not made the required checks then the landlord who rented the property could be fined up to £3,000.