Changes To Right To Rent Checks

What Landlords may or may not know

If you know that’s great, if you don’t it could cost you dearly so you might like to have a little flick through this…

Right to rent checks is a Code of Practice that is relevant for all landlords of private rented properties to ensure that they do not allow illegal immigrants to live in their premises as their only or main home. The scheme was introduced as part of a suite of measures designed to tackle and deter illegal immigration. As a landlord, you might think ‘so what? Not really my problem.’ Unfortunately, that’s the issue, as landlords, it really could be our problem.

All landlords in England must check that new adult tenants have the right to rent before starting a new tenancy to avoid a civil penalty. Therefore, you should ask to see relevant documents. It all sounds like a nightmare but there is government guidance to help. To save you from searching through endless government documents, I’ve pulled the main points together in this blog.

Due to Brexit, EU, EEA and Swiss citizens have had to evidence their rights in the UK, including their right to rent, either using their online immigration status (eVisa) or with a physical immigration document. This has been in practice since 1st July 2021.

It must be noted that it is unlawful to discriminate in the provision of rented accommodation because of race.

How to check original documents

  • Check which adults will use your property as their main home (your ‘tenants’).
  • Ask them for original documents that prove they can live in the UK. From 6th April 2022, you will not be able to accept biometric residence cards or permits. Ask the tenant for a share code instead.
  • Check their documents to see if they have the right to rent your property.
  • Check that each tenant’s documents are genuine and belong to them, with the tenant present.
  • Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check. (Source: GOV.UK)

Share code

A tenant’s right to rent in England can be viewed via a share code if the tenant has a biometric residence card or permit, has settled or pre-settled status or applied for a visa and used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document on their phone.

You will need to ask your tenant to give you their share code.

What if a tenant does not have the right documents?

You must use the landlord’s checking service to check whether the tenant is allowed to rent without the right documents if:

  • the Home Office has their documents.
  • they have an outstanding case or appeal with the Home Office.
  • the Home Office told them they have ‘permission to rent’.

Temporary changes due to the COVID-19

Temporary changes were made on 30th March 2020 and remain in place until April 2022. Checks can currently be carried out over video calls. Tenants can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals. Landlords must use the Home Office Landlord Checking Service if the tenant cannot provide the right documents.

How to exercise the temporary adjusted check:

  • ask the tenant to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app.
  • arrange a video call with the tenant – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents.
  • record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”.
  • if the tenant has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system you can use the online right to rent service while doing a video call – the applicant must give you permission to view their details. (Source: GOV.UK)

Consequences of the failure to obtain accepted right to rent documents

You could be sent to prison for 5 years or get an unlimited fine for renting a property in England to someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to rent in the UK.

The amount for a first-time penalty is £1,000 for tenants in rented accommodation and rises to £3,000 for any further penalties. (Source: GOV.UK)

Statutory excuse

If you do nothing else at least do the following which are considered statutory excuses for renting to someone who turns out not to have a right to rent in the UK:

  • conducted initial right to rent checks before authorising an adult to occupy rented accommodation
  • conducted follow-up checks at the appropriate date if initial checks indicate that a tenant has a time-limited right to rent, and
  • made a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks indicate that a tenant no longer has the right to rent.

You do not need to check tenants in these types of accommodation:

  • social housing
  • a care home, hospice or hospital
  • a hostel or refuge
  • a mobile home
  • student accommodation

You also do not need to check tenants if they live in accommodation that:

  • is provided by a local authority
  • is provided as part of their job (known as ‘tied accommodation’)
  • has a lease that’s 7 years or longer

How to evict someone who does not have the right to rent in England:

Useful links:

Landlords’ code of practice:

Landlords’ checking service:

Tell the home office:

Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks:

YouTube Video Blog:


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