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Boomin Answers: What is Right to Rent?

Under UK law, landlords are responsible for ensuring their tenant’s legal right to rent. Here’s how the scheme works.

Faye deGavre

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Sep 22, 2021

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3 min read

Boomin Answers: What is Right to Rent?

Before renting out a property, landlords in England are required to ensure that their tenants have the right to reside in the UK. This means the landlord or Letting Agent must check the immigration status of each adult hoping to occupy the property. Since a few basics have changed since Brexit, we’ll walk you through what you need to know about the Right to Rent checks.

What is right to rent?

Right to Rent was introduced under the Immigration Act 2014 and works to create a fairer and more effective immigration system. It places restrictions on illegal immigrants accessing rented housing in England by requiring all adult occupants to prove they’re in the UK legally. Only necessary in England, landlords operating elsewhere in the UK aren’t bound by the same legislation.

What is a right to rent check?

Before renting, prospective adult tenants go through a series of different checks, including financial and immigration. The right to rent check involves the prospective tenant showing identity documents to a landlord or Letting Agent to prove they can rent in the UK.

The landlord/Letting Agent takes a copy of the documents and records that the check has been completed. Any and every potential tenant aged 18 and older should have their documents checked, regardless of whether they are British or named in the tenancy agreement.

A valid passport, visa, proof of settlement status and Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) may be required. Check the full list of documents your tenant can show you as proof.

What are the landlord’s responsibilities?

The landlord must check the documents of each adult applicant using one of two possible routes, either through manual checks or by using the Home Office’s online checking service. The online service can only be used for cases where a tenant has an immigration status which can be checked online.

The Home Office has given Letting Agents and landlords more time to carry on with virtual Right to Rent checks rather than face-to-face until 5th April 2022. Virtual identity checks and digital/scanned copies of Right to Rent documentation will be accepted. This is instead of having to do face-to-face checks and the physical inspection of documents, which was suspended when COVID-19 struck.

To check original documents:

  1. Check which adults will use the property as their main home
  2. Ask them for original documents to prove they can live in the UK
  3. Check all documents to see if they have the right to rent
  4. Ensure all documents are genuine
  5. Make copies of the documents and record the date you checked them
  6. Store copies safely

Here’s a full rundown on how to check your tenant’s right to rent. Landlords must also conduct follow up checks at the appropriate time, such as when the tenant’s visa is set to expire.

Right to rent checks with a Letting Agent

Although landlords are required to ensure the right to rent checks are carried out, it’s not a requirement that landlords conduct the checks themselves. Letting Agents can do this on the landlord’s behalf.

If you use a Letting Agent to let your property, then the checks will be carried out by them. This should be agreed with the agent in writing – or you may still be held responsible.

Who has the right to rent in the UK?

Prospective tenants have the right to rent a residential property in the UK if any of the following apply:

  • They’re a British citizen
  • They have permission to be in the UK (work or student visa)
  • They have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or have settled status
  • They’re considered to have refugee status or have humanitarian protection
  • The Home Office has granted a time-limited right to rent

Since 1st July 2021, all EU, EEA nationals and Swiss nationals no longer have unlimited right to rent.

If a landlord/agent discovers that a tenant isn’t legally permitted to rent, and thereby doesn’t pass the check, the tenant will be sent a disqualification notice from the Home Office.

For more information visit the Home Office website.

Letting your property with Boomin

At Boomin, we can help attract the right tenants to your property. We work with some of the UK’s top Letting Agents and are the only place your property is visible the moment you book a free rental valuation. Find out more on how Boomin can help rent out your house with ease.

Faye deGavre

Content Writer