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How to check a tenant under Right-to-Rent

Monday, 3 October 2016

stamps-738059_640Due to changes made in February 2016, every landlord in England must now carry out checks on potential tenants to make sure that they have the right to be in the country on a residential basis before they are allowed to move in.

Right-to-rent checks do not need to be carried out on current tenants but if you fail to check new tenants within a 28 day period leading up to the start of a new tenancy then you could face penalties.

Right to Rent was introduced as part of the Immigration Act (2014) as a way of deterring those persons who are not legally allowed to reside in the UK, and was initially piloted in the West Midlands for six months. In order to establish whether a resident is allowed to live in the UK they must ask to see original and genuine documentation such as ID or birth certificates and retain copies on file with dates of checks recorded next to them. If a tenant is currently allowed to live in the UK but only on a temporary basis then the landlord must schedule to follow up the check just before the expiry date or 12 months after the initial check. A list of acceptable identification can be viewed here, as supplied by the Home Office.

The rules apply to a range of tenancies including standard tenancies, sub-tenancies, leases of under 7 years, sub-leases and licences and extends to properties which persons aged 18 years or over are using as their main home. However there are exemptions which include accommodations arranged by local authorities or NHS bodies, care homes, hospitals and hospices, social housing, hostels and refuges, tied accommodation, student accommodation and long leases.

While checks may seem like an inconvenience, landlords may be liable for civil penalties of up to £3,000 if they fail to carry out the necessary checks. In order to make the process easier, landlords should integrate this as part of their referencing process, encouraging potential tenants to bring along the necessary documents to viewings.

Here at Rollingsons our property litigation team has extensive experience acting for landlords and can advise on the necessary requirements for buy-to-let properties. Contact us on 020 7611 4848 or visit our property litigation page for more information.

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