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Check your tenant's right to rent

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Right to Rent Scheme 2016

As of 1 February 2016, Landlords are now required to check the immigration status of their tenants in respect of Residential Tenancy Agreements entered into after this date. If a person does not have permission to be in the UK, they do not have the right to rent in the UK.

The term landlord includes occupiers who sublet their property and landlords or occupiers who take lodgers. Responsibility under the right to rent scheme may transfer if the property is later sub let, a letting or managing agent is appointed or there is a change in landlord. It is therefore important to check if this scheme affects you. The scheme applies not only to the tenant identified in the lease, but to ALL adult occupants of the property.

I am a Landlord. What do I need to do to comply?

The scheme requires that landlords check the immigration status of their tenants and occupiers within the 28 days before a new tenancy begins. If the proposed tenant’s/occupier’s immigration status is in doubt, the tenancy should not be entered into.

If the proposed tenant’s/occupier’s immigration status is originally valid but there is indication that the tenant’s/occupier’s right to rent will expire during the term of the tenancy, the landlord should diarise this date and make further checks of the tenant’s/occupier’s right to rent nearer the time. It is the responsibility of the individual tenant/occupier to ensure their immigration status is valid at all times during their leave in the UK.   

If follow up checks indicate that a tenant/occupier no longer has the right to rent, the landlord should make a report to the Home Office. There is no need for the landlord to terminate the tenancy agreement on this basis, as the landlord may find himself in breach of that agreement.

I am a landlord; what if I get it wrong?

If a landlord is found to be in breach of the Right to Rent Scheme they may be liable to a civil penalty. If a landlord receives a statutory penalty, they may be able to establish a statutory excuse. For example, if the landlord has done the initial right to rent checks within 28 days of the tenancy agreement being entered into and done the follow up checks where appropriate. Also, if follow up checks indicated that a tenant’s/occupier’s right to rent was in doubt and a report was made to the Home Office.  

It is important that landlords comply with this scheme as they could be fined up to £1,000 per person for a first time breach and up to £3,000 per person for any subsequent breach.

If you receive a statutory penalty which you do not agree with, contact our litigation team for advice. A Landlord only has 28 days from the date specified in the notice to appeal the decision to the county court, so act fast. 

Top tips to remember:

  • Keep copies of document checks done on your tenant

  • Diarise for review

  • Keep copies of documents for 12 months after the tenancy has ended

  • If you are made subject to a civil penalty contact us to advise you on the prospects of challenging the same