Do your tenants have a right to rent?
Since the introduction of the Immigration Act in 2014, landlords have been required to check whether their tenant has a right to rent in the UK.
You might shrug your shoulders at this point because your tenants are British nationals and this only applies to other nationalities, right? Wrong, I am afraid.
The requirement to comply with the right to rent checks are for all occupiers regardless of their nationality. This is because if we exclude UK nationals we are potentially falling foul of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. That is, if there is less admin involved with renting to someone from the UK, then a landlord might choose that tenant rather than someone from Europe for example.
The ‘all occupiers’ part is important because this means you can’t get round it by just not adding that person as a tenant. It also means that lodgers are caught up in the requirement. Occupiers under 18 do not need to be checked although if they are likely to turn 18 during the tenancy you would be sensible to carry out a check anyway.
Things are about to get a whole lot more complex from the 1st July 2021.
First off, if you have already carried out Right to Rent checks on existing tenants then you do not need to check again. EU and EEA tenants already living in the UK should have applied for settlement status.
Moving forward where you have someone from the EU or EEA who wish to rent from you, then you will need to know that if they have been living in the UK for some time, they have applied for settlement status. They should have documentation that shows the application and / or approval.
For people arriving in the UK from the EU or EEA after the 1st July 2021 then you will need to see evidence of their identity and proof of their entry in the last six months. This proof of entry could be an original or electronic document. A boarding pass for example. Where you can establish this then you can grant a tenancy and will not need to check their status again for 12 months.
At the moment (until 31st August 2021) these checks can be done virtually because of the Coronavirus pandemic but after this date you will need to check the original documents in person.
The Home Office have set up an online checking system which is by far the simplest way of dealing with the right to rent checks. The tenant must also use the system so you would be well advised to send them the link. They input their documents including a photograph. This will then generate a share code which they give to you. Inputting this along with their date of birth will give you access to their immigration status. It is worth noting this is available to all non-UK nationals, not just those from the EU.
There is also a landlord checking service should you be unable to establish their right to rent.
Original documentation that can be accepted can be found in the Guidance which you can see here
If you have any suspicions that your tenant or an occupier does not have a right to rent then you are duty bound to report it to the Home Office.
It is a complex area and given the fines for a breach is £3,000 per occupier, it is important to get it right. If you need some more assistance or information, please do get in touch. We’d be happy to help.
Please note the date this article was published as the law may have changed since it was posted. You should always seek independent legal advice if you are intending to rely on any of the contents.
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