How right to rent checks work

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If you’re a landlord renting out property in England, you’re legally required to check all adult tenants (over the age of 18) have the right to rent and live in the UK.

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Introduced in the Immigration Act 2014, right to rent legislation applies to anyone who sublets property or takes in lodgers, with potential penalties of up to £3,000 for those who fail to carry out the necessary checks.

You might also want to find out more about Admiral Landlord Insurance and read our other guides:

How to make a right to rent check

Right to rent checks need to be carried out in a professional manner to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. Thankfully they’re pretty straightforward with just three stages:

1. Get: The first step is to get the prospective tenant’s original document that proves their right to live in the UK. This might be a passport, an identity card or something else in the list below. Keep scrolling for a list of acceptable documents that can be used by landlords for right to rent checks.

2. Check: After getting the right document, check it over carefully to make sure it’s legitimate and acceptable. Do this with the tenant present so you can ask questions.

3. Copy: When you’re confident you’ve checked documents that prove your tenant’s right to live in the UK, make a copy by scanning or photocopying it. Keep these copied documents on file and record the date of when you made the checks.

In most cases, right to rent checks can be carried out without the need to contact the Home Office. However, if your prospective tenant says they have an ongoing application or appeal with the Home Office, or tell you the Home Office has given them special permission to rent in the UK, this’ll need to be verified.

You can get a Home Office right to rent check form online and can expect a response usually within 48 hours.

Acceptable documents for right to rent checks

You can use one of a variety of documents to verify a client’s right to rent and live in the UK.

The government’s list of acceptable documents is divided into two groups. Group one includes single documents that show an unlimited right to rent. Group two documents also show an unlimited right to rent, but you’ll need to see two or more in combination for them to be valid.

The acceptable documents in group one are:

  • UK passport
  • EEA/Swiss national passport/identity card
  • Registration Certificate or document certifying permanent residence of EEA/Swiss national
  • EEA/Swiss family member Permanent Residence card
  • Biometric Residence Permit with unlimited leave
  • Passport or travel document endorsed with unlimited leave
  • UK immigration status document endorsed with unlimited leave
  • A certificate of naturalisation or registration as a British citizen

The acceptable documents in group two are:

  • UK birth or adoption certificate
  • Full or provisional UK driving licence
  • Benefits paperwork
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Evidence of current or previous service in armed forces
  • A letter from:
    • HM Prison Service
    • A UK government department or local authority
    • National Offender Management Service
    • A police force confirming certain documents have been reported stolen
    • A private rented sector access scheme
    • A UK further or higher education institution

You can also provide testimony from a UK passport holder or an employer.

Remember, if your tenant shows you a document from group two, you’ll need to see it in combination with another group two item for it to be permissible as proof of right to rent.

Time-limited documents

A third group of documents can be used to prove right to rent in the UK, albeit for a limited time. If this applies to your tenancy, you’ll need to bear in mind the tenancy can only last for as long as the prospective tenant has the right to rent in the UK.

Permissible time-limited documents include:

  • A valid passport endorsed with a time-limited period
  • Biometric immigration document with permission to stay for time-limited period
  • Non-EEA national residence card
  • UK immigration status document with a time-limited endorsement from Home Office

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