From 1 February 2016, all private landlords granting tenancies for a term of less than 7 years must carry out a "right to rent" check against new tenants and occupiers to ensure that they have the right to occupy the premises for the full term of the tenancy. The check must be made before the start of the tenancy and Landlords who fail to comply with the requirements risk a fine of up to £3,000.
What to check
The right to rent test is based on the immigration status of the prospective tenant. A person will be disqualified from occupying property under a residential tenancy agreement if they require leave to enter or remain in the UK and do not have it, or they have leave but it is subject to conditions that prevent them from occupying the premises.
Who to check
Right to rent checks must be made against the tenant named in the tenancy agreement and all adults that will be living in the property as their only or main home. This may include family members and domestic staff, but will not include non-rent paying occasional guests.
How to check
In order to carry out the right to rent check landlords (or their agents where it is agreed in writing that an agent will be responsible for compliance) will need to have sight of the tenant's original identity documents and will need to be satisfied that the documents are genuine. In most cases this will involve meeting the tenant in person or via a live video link. Landlords must keep records of the checks made including copies of all identification documents. The Home Office has published a useful user guide for landlords "Right to Rent Document Checks" and, if a landlord has any particular concerns, or a potential tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal, a further check can be made via the Home Office Landlords' Checking Service.
When to check
A right to rent check must be made against all tenants and other occupiers entering into new tenancies on or after 1 February 2016. Landlords are not required to carry out a check in relation to tenancies entered into before 1 February 2016, or renewed after that date (provided that the renewal agreement is between the same parties and there has been no break in the tenant’s right to occupy the premises). It is currently unclear whether a right to rent check is required if a tenancy granted after 1 February 2016 is assigned to a new tenant. In the absence of any guidance on this point, landlords required to give formal consent to such an assignment may wish to carry out a right to rent check but it would seem that this is not strictly necessary.
Further guidance for landlords is available at www.gov.uk website: