What are Right to Rent Checks?James Trafford
Before a landlord can take on any tenant or lodger, they are first legally required to check their immigration status. These right to rent checks must be carried out before the tenancy commences and not after.
Renters will have to provide documentation to prove they have the right to live in the UK, on either a temporary or permanent basis.
Who is legally allowed to rent in the UK?
Listed below are those who are allowed to rent property in the UK:
- British and Irish citizens
- Those that have an indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
- Those with either a refugee status or under humanitarian protection
- Those that have been given permission to stay in the UK, such as someone on a student visa
- Those that have been granted by the Home Office a time limited right to rent
- Those that have a settled or pre-settled status (EU settlement scheme)
If you have been granted a 12-month period of leave to remain in the United Kingdom, your landlord is required to conduct a follow-up inspection of your residency status if your permission to remain in the United Kingdom is time-limited.
Documentation required to pass checks
Applicants will need to provide a passport or residence document in order to pass the check. And for those who are not British or Irish citizens, either one of these two documents must verify that you have been given permission to be in the UK.
Of course, not everyone will have a passport, and in this instance, you will need to provide two alternative documents, such as a driving licence and a UK birth certificate. For further information on alternative documentation, you can see here.
The landlord or letting agent will need to make copies of these documents for their records to show proof that the relevant checks have been carried out.
Sometimes, a tenant applicant’s documents might be with the Home Office, and in this case, the landlord can request a right to rent check here by providing their Home Office reference number.
Landlords must not discriminate
Equality regulations must not be broken when it comes to the right to rent checks, and landlords and real estate brokers should not assume that anyone is eligible to rent their properties.
People who apply for housing should not be encouraged, discouraged, or rejected based on the following things:
- Skin colour, race, or ethnicity
- Nationality or birthplace
- Someone’s accent of English-speaking capability
- How long they have lived in the UK
It is illegal for both a landlord to request their letting agent to discriminate against a rent application and for a letting agent to agree to do so.
What if someone does not pass the right to rent check?
If you fail a pre-tenancy background check, it is illegal for a landlord or agency to rent to you.
Your landlord must notify the Home Office if you fail a follow-up check.
In the event that an error has been made, the Home Office will request additional proof of your right to rent.
A disqualification notice can be issued by the Home Office. If you don’t have the legal right to rent, they might urge your landlord to take action to terminate the tenancy contract.
Your landlord isn’t required to end the tenancy unless the Home Office tells them to.
It may be that some people living in a property have the right to rent while others do not. In this instance, the landlord is only able to end a tenancy by either giving the correct notice period or by a court eviction order.
It’s possible for you to negotiate with the landlord as long as you’re the tenant and you have the legal right to rent. If the individual who does not have the right to rent can go, you might ask to stay.
It’s possible for a landlord to evict someone absent a court order if no one in the property has a right to rent.
Eviction should be announced at least four weeks in advance. But if you don’t depart by the date on the notice, they can carry out a peaceful eviction. As an illustration, consider replacing the locks on the property.
A new discrimination code for right to rent checks
A new set of guidelines has been provided to landlords on how they may conduct right-to-rent checks without discriminating against their tenants.
The UK government has issued a new code of practise which is applicable to residency tenancy contracts which commenced from April 6th, 2022, as well as where the landlord or letting agent has to carry out repeat checks after this date.
The new code states that status checks should be less subjective than those that are based solely on those who they think appear to be or likely to be migrants. Furthermore, landlords and agents are not permitted to treat time-limited renters differently than others, including those who have access to the Home Office online checking service.+
In addition to direct discrimination, the code emphasises indirect discrimination, such as requiring a prospective renter to have been in the UK for more than five years, which makes it less likely that migrants would be able to comply.