On 1 February 2016, the responsibility for ensuring that tenants have a right to live in the UK was passed from the Home Office to landlords, the so-called right to rent checks.
The following guidance pointers were issued by the Home Office:
There are four basic steps.
- Find out who will live in the property
- Check that these people have the correct documentation to stay in the UK
- Retain a copy of the documents and record the steps you took to check them
- Keep the copies throughout the tenancy period and for at least one year afterwards
Unless you follow these procedures, and if an illegal immigrant is found living in your property, there is a possibility that you will be liable to a civil penalty of up to £3,000.
Landlords letting certain exempt properties will not be affected by the right to rent regulations. These include:
- Accommodation arranged by local authorities or NHS bodies
- Care homes, hospitals and hospices
- Social housing, including private properties let to social tenants
- Hostels and refuges
- Tied accommodation
- Student accommodation
- Long leases
As a landlord, you can soften the impact of these regulations by asking any agents that manage or let your property to carry out the checks for them. You should have this agreement in writing.
If a tenant sub-lets the property without you knowing, they are responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants. They will be liable for any civil penalties if they don’t do the check correctly.