Business Law: Harriet Brice explains the new ‘right to rent’ rules for landlords

Harriet Brice of Elllisons Solicitors.

Harriet Brice of Elllisons Solicitors. - Credit: Archant

From yesterday, the Government’s extension of the “Right to Rent Scheme” came into force across England.

Under the new rules, private landlords must check the immigration status of any prospective tenant, and other adult occupiers, before granting a tenancy.

A tenancy can only be granted if the prospective tenant has a right to rent. To have such a right, they must satisfy one of the following:

n They are “Relevant National”. This means they are either a British National, a national of an EEA state or a national of Switzerland;

n They have leave to remain in the UK (either permanently or time limited) and this leave is not subject to a condition preventing that person from occupying property); or

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n They have permission granted by the Secretary of State to occupy property.

In order to establish whether a person has a right to rent, a landlord must carry out the following checks before entering into a tenancy agreement: Make enquiries as to who is going to live in the property; Obtain original documents (prescribed in government Code of Conduct) confirming each adult occupiers entitlement to be in the UK; Check the original documents are valid and up-to-date; Take copies of the documents; and Record the date on which the documents were checked.

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In some cases a person will have been given a formal “Right to Rent” by the Government and may not have any documentation to support this position. An online checker is available at Once submitted you will receive a response from the government confirming whether or not that persona has a right to rent.

Where a landlord grants a tenancy to a person who has a time limited right to remain in the UK, repeat checks must be carried out to ensure that person’s right to rent does not lapse during the course of the tenancy. A repeat check must be carried out on the longer of 12 months from the initial check or not less than 28 days before the initial documents show the right to remain expires.

It is an offence to punishable by a fine of up to £3,000 to let a property to a person who does not have the right to rent.

:: Harriet Brice is a solicitor at law firm Ellisons.

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