Right to Rent Checks for Landlords
The government has recently updated the Immigration Act 2014 and as of the 1st December 2016 it has become a criminal offence to knowingly let to tenants that do not have the ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK.
What’s important to remember is that no-one is expecting you to become a trained immigration specialist, they are only asking that you show due diligence and request certain documents from a tenant at the point of referencing and keep copies of these to evidence that you have done the checks.
What documents should you be asking for?
As part of the referencing process you should be requesting a copy of the tenants photographic ID and Visa where applicable. Anyone from outside the EU will require a Visa to live and work in the UK so it’s important that you ask for this documentation.
What if the tenant does not have Photographic ID?
There are of course times when a tenant does not have Photographic ID such as a Passport or Driving licence but that doesn’t mean that you can’t rent to them. You just have to request alternative documentation. There is a handy guide produced by the government that details exactly what documents you should ask for and what you should look out for Right to Rent User Guide
What if the Visa runs out throughout the tenancy?
It is still fine to let to someone whose Visa expires during the tenancy as long as their visa is valid on the day that the tenancy commences and you keep records of the checks that you have done. You just need to ensure that you conduct follow up checks.
How often should follow up checks be done?
The follow up checks should be completed every 12 months or when the Visa expires, whichever is the later. So that means that you only have to conduct the checks every 12 months as a minimum and ensure that you keep accurate records.
What if the tenant does not provide me with their updated documents as part of my follow up checks?
Not to worry, there is an advice line that is run by the Home Office that you can contact and they will be able to tell you whether your tenant has the ‘Right to Rent’. They have a 48 hour Service Level agreement to respond to requests and once you have a ‘Yes’ from them this covers you for the next 12 months. The online form can be found here homeoffice.gov.uk
If the tenant no longer has the right to rent, you will need to report them to the Home Office and they will then take the relevant action.
As long as you can evidence that you have done the relevant checks and then reported them when/if they no longer have the right to rent you will have a statutory excuse. It’s important to remember that the Immigration Act 2014 is not there to penalise landlords that follow the rules.
The home office Helpline can be contacted on 0300 069 9799