Right to Rent Requirements

Right to Rent Requirements

Right To Rent Requirements

As part of the Government’s objective to prevent illegal immigrants from accessing our finite housing stock, it has introduced new “right to rent” requirements. The requirements are also designed to help ensure that people who do not have the right to be in the UK are prevented from establishing a settled life here. Landlords who breach this prohibition will be subject to a civil penalty.

To avoid liability for a penalty, landlords must make, or arrange for an agent to make, simple document checks to establish a person’s “right to rent” before entering into a tenancy agreement. Where the tenant is a non-EEA national with a time-limit on their stay in the UK, the landlord or agent will need to also check when the person’s visa or residence permit is due to expire.

However, landlords should also ensure that they act in accordance with their obligations under equality legislation. Among other things, it is unlawful to discriminate in letting practices on the basis of race, which includes colour, nationality and national or ethnic origins.

Who and where do the rules apply?

The rules apply nationally from 01 February 2016 to landlords or agents who let private rented accommodation to someone as their only or main home on or after 1 December 2015.

Who is a relevant national?

Relevant nationals are British citizens, EEA nationals and Swiss nationals. All of these people can rent accommodation but will still have to show evidence that they fall into one of these groups.

Do the rules apply to existing tenants?

Existing tenants with an agreement that started before 1 December 2015, or renewals of those tenancies after this date aren’t affected as long as any renewed agreement is between the same parties and there’s no break in the tenancy.

Do the rules only apply to tenancies?

The rules apply to a range of residential agreements that require payment of rent. This includes tenancies, leases of less than 7 years, licences and sub-tenancies or sub-leases.

The rules apply to private rented accommodation only.

What documents might a landlord want to see?

  • Commonly a landlord should see a copy of a passport, national identity card or a residence care of a certificate of naturalisation.

How to avoid a civil penalty?

A landlord can avoid receiving a civil penalty provided they:

  • Carry out the initial checks before letting property to the tenant(s) and any other adult(s) who’ll be living there and keep evidence that they’ve done so
  • Do a follow-up check if the initial check shows that someone has a limited right to rent and contact the Home Office if the second check shows that someone no longer has a right to rent.

A landlord doesn’t have to evict a tenant or occupier who originally had a limited right to rent and then later has no right to rent. They’re only required to report the matter to the Home Office.

A landlord can receive a civil penalty of up to £3,000 for each adult living in their property who isn’t a relevant national or has no right to rent.

Civil penalty notice

If a landlord is going to receive a civil penalty, they’ll receive a civil penalty notice. It outlines why the Home Office thinks the landlord is liable, the amount of the civil penalty and how it can be paid. A landlord can object to the penalty by writing to the Home Office within 28 days of the date on the notice. There is also a right of appeal.

If you have any questions concerning the Right to Rent Requirements please contact our expert landlord team who will be able to assist you.