The Right to Rent Policy - Are There Changes Afoot?

Published: 24/08/2018

One of things that you have to do as a landlord or letting agency is check that any potential tenant has the right to rent.

In order to do this the tenant must produce an original document which prove that the person has the right to live in the UK. There are different types of acceptable documents for example:

  • A British or EU Passport
  • An EU National Identity card
  • Home Office Certificate
  • A naturalisation Certificate
  • Resident Permit Card showing permanent residency
  • A non-EU Passport showing indefinite leave in the UK

The landlord must take a copy of the document, date it and keep it in a safe place. If the tenant only has the right to remain in the UK for a limited period, the date this expires must be noted. The landlord or agents must then make another check just before the expiry date or 12 months after the last check was made.

If the tenant doesn’t produce a document on the second check, or they tell you that that their right to remain in the UK has run out, the landlord must tell the Home Office. However, if the tenant has applied for an extension and the tenancy still has time to run. You have a 12-month exemption from prosecution as long as the tenant’s paperwork was correct at the beginning of the tenancy.

If, meanwhile, the Home Office confirm that the tenant doesn’t have the right to live in the UK the landlord must take steps to have the tenants evicted from the property. If the tenant isn’t evicted the landlord could face a fine of up to £3,000 or imprisonment.

Unfortunately, the right to rent laws have made it very difficult for non-UK passport holders to rent property from decent landlords. People with property to rent are put off by the legalities of the situation and are nervous about breaking the law.

There is however, some good news on the horizon. The scheme is to be challenged in the High Court in December. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has won the right to a full hearing on what is a very unpopular scheme.

It is claimed that the scheme breaches human rights and is responsible for indirect racial discrimination. The challenge is supported by the Landlord’s Association which was quoted as saying the policy is causing “needless tension and concern” for some of its 50,000 members.