Do your tenants have the right to be in the UK?

From the 1 February 2016 all private landlords in England have to check that all new tenants given tenancies from the 1 February 2016 onwards have the right to be in the UK before renting the property to them.

The landlord is also advised to check all adult occupiers living at the property.

Tenancies can only be offered to the following:

  • British Citizens.
  • Nationals of an EEA state other than UK.
  • Nationals of Switzerland.
  • Individuals granted leave to enter / remain in UK for a limited period.
  • Individuals entitled to remain in UK by virtue of an enforceable EU right or of any provision made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

If the individual is granted leave for a limited period the landlord must then continue to make sure that the right to remain in the UK and occupy the premises does not lapse.

Breaching this Act can lead to a penalty of up to £3,000 per breach.

Under the Immigration Bill 2015-2016, which is currently going through Parliament, it provides for the Immigration Act 2014 to be amended so there will be a new criminal offence targeted at landlords and agents who repeatedly fail to conduct the right to rent checks. Landlords and agents may then face either a fine or up to five years imprisonment and further sanctions under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

There are several exempt areas of residential housing:

  • Local authority allocation when it is arranged in response to a statutory duty with the intention of providing accommodation to a homeless person.
  • Social housing where it concerns an exchange for a current tenant, or when assisting a local authority with regards homeless allocation.
  • Care homes, hospitals and hospices.
  • Hostels and refuges.
  • Mobile homes.
  • Tied accommodation by employer.
  • Student accommodation.
  • Long leases of over seven years.