If you’re a landlord, you’ve probably heard all about the government’s plans to make a few legislative changes to how you go about your business. In particular, they’ve introduced something called the ‘Right to Rent’ initiative, which was announced last year and came into effect on 1 February 2017. This means that landlords are now responsible for checking that their tenants have the legal right to be in the UK. To help you get up to speed with this new system – and to help you avoid any hefty fines – here’s our short guide to the checks and procedures you’ll need.
How do you conduct Right to Rent checks?
As a landlord, you now need to check that your potential tenants have documentary evidence that they have the right to be in the UK. Thankfully the Home Office provides a list (two, in fact) of the documents you should ask for in this handy user guide. You then need to make copies of the required documents and keep them for the duration of the tenancy agreement, and for at least one year afterwords for your own records.
Who needs to be checked?
Anyone who’s over the age of 18 and in the running to be a potential tenant needs to be checked. Equally, anyone over 18 who’ll use the property as their main home address, even if they’re not named on the tenancy agreement, needs to be checked too. This applies to all tenancy agreements, not just Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements (ASTAs).
When do the checks need to be made?
If your potential tenants have no time limit on their stay in the UK, you can carry out the checks any time before the tenancy agreement comes into effect. However, any tenants who have a time-limited right to remain in the UK need to hand over their documents no less than 28 days before the tenancy agreement goes live.
What about existing tenants?
You don’t need to check any tenants who moved into your property before the new rules came into effect at the start of February. This applies to straightforward tenancy renewals (without any breaks) too.
Does Right to Rent apply to all properties?
Some properties and exceptional circumstances are exempt from Right to Rent checks. An up-to-date list of exemptions can be found on Gov.uk, which includes the likes of social housing, care homes, hostels as well as others. If you have any further questions, make sure you get in touch with the Home Office.