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Right to Rent: What does it mean?

This guide is all about the checks that a landlord must make when they are letting private homes to tenants. Before you can rent a property in the UK, check that you are legally able to under the current legislation.

What is the right to rent?

The right to rent means that before a tenancy can be agreed or begin, a landlord must be sure that a tenant is in the UK legally, and has the right to rent a residential property. Checking the immigration status of a potential tenant is a legal requirement for all landlords. The right to rent check only applies to tenancy agreements starting on or after February 2016.

What do I need to rent? Check our guide if you are a first time tenant

How does a landlord check someone has the right to rent?

A landlord must ask for documents that prove a tenant has the right to live in the UK. You can find a list of these documents here. The documents must be the originals, from which a landlord will take copies. Some examples of these documents are:

  • Passport
  • UK birth certificate
  • Driving licence

These documents can be checked through the website, or landlords can contact the Landlords’ Helpline. Copies should be kept on file and a note made of the date the check was carried out.

Who has the right to rent?

You have the right to rent a residential property in the UK if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have permission to be in the UK. This includes if you are on a work or student visa
  • You are a British or EEA citizen
  • You have indefinite leave to remain or settled status. Find out what this means and how to apply here.
  • You have refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • The Home Office has granted you a time limited right to rent

Which tenants must be checked?

As well as the tenant, a landlord must also check the status of any other adults that will be living in the property. Children under the age of 18, or guests that are not contributing rent don’t have to be checked.

Are any tenants exempt from a right to rent check?

Landlords are not legally required to check tenants who will be living in these types of accommodation:

  • Social housing
  • A care home, hospice or hospital
  • A hostel or refuge
  • A mobile home
  • Student accommodation

In addition to this, if the accommodation is provided by a local authority, will be provided as part of the tenants’ job (known as ‘tied accommodation’), or has a lease that’s seven years or longer, the checks are not mandatory.

What if a tenant fails the right to rent check?

A landlord cannot let a property legally to anyone who fails a right to rent check. If a landlord discovers that tenants are not legally permitted to rent, they will be sent a disqualification notice from The Home Office and must take steps to end the tenancy.

Renting with haart

At haart, we can help you find the perfect place to live with our perfect mix of technology and expert local knowledge. We’re up to date on all the latest legislation, too. See our piece on the Tenant Fee Ban, or brush up on the obligations for a tenant.

If you have questions, or need to find your next home, get in touch today and let haart help.