New rules under the Immigration Act 2014 will be put in place across England from the 1st February 2016
What is Right to Rent?
The new Right to Rent scheme will be put in place to ensure that only people who have permission (or right) to live in the UK willbe able to rent property. Appropriate checks must be carried out by the landlord or agent (with written consent from the landlord) in order to avoid a possible penalty.
Who has the right to rent?
There is quite an extensive list on who has the right and who is exempt from these checks. We will go into a little detail here on what we think will apply to you, however, if you wish to have a more thorough read full details are available on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.
According to the new legislation, you have the right to rent if you come under the following categories:
- You are a UK citizen.
- You are an EEA/Swiss national
- You have the right to be in the UK under EEA law
- You have valid immigration permission to be in the UK
- You do not have valid immigration permission to be in the UK but you have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government
If one of the above statements applies then it is the landlord’s responsibility to obtain proof of this before the tenant can move in.
What proof is needed?
For UK citizens
A current or expired passport (driving licenses alone will no longer be accepted) which shows that the holder is a British citizen or a citizen of the UK and Colonies having the right of abode in the UK
For EEA/Swiss nationals
A passport or national identity card
For people who have immigration permission or have been granted 'permission to rent' by the UK government
A current passport plus a valid visa or a valid Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Visas are sometimes separate and not in the passport itself so two documents might be needed. Landlords must check this again once the visa has expired or after 12 months from the tenancy start date, whichever is later
What if the above cannot be provided?
If a passport/identity card/visa cannot be obtained then two or more of the following documents must be provided instead:
- A full birth or adoption certificate issued in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland
- A letter from your education institution confirming your acceptance for a current course of studies
- A current full or provisional UK driving licence (both the photocard and paper counterpart)
These documents must be given to the landlord/agent in person by the holder. If a tenant does not meet with the above then the Home Office must be informed.
Once the tenant has provided the necessary documents the landlord/agent must take a photocopy and return the originals back to the Tenant.
These photocopies must be signed and dated by the recipient and kept safe for the duration of the tenancy and then for a minimum of one year after the tenancy has ended. Failure to produce such evidence of these checks could result in a fine of up of to £3,000.
A very useful document which extensively details how to do this has been published by the Home Office. Click here to view the document online.
These checks must be done within 28 days prior to the tenancy start date as per the agreement.
For more information on obtaining the correct proof, read the Guidance Right of abode (ROA) document on the Direct Gov website.
In 2015 parts of the West Midlands trialled the scheme. According to an article in the Guardian “During the six-month pilot in West Midlands, 109 people who were in Britain illegally were identified as a result of compulsory checks on new tenants”. Several landlords received penalties as they did not provide the correct evidence.
The immigration minister, James Brokenshire, has stated “The new rules are part of the Immigration Act 2014 which introduced measures to reform the immigration system. Right to rent is about deterring those who are illegally resident from remaining in the UK. Those with a legitimate right to be here will be able to prove this easily and will not be adversely affected.” Read more from the article here.
To read more about how to check your tenant’s rights visit the Direct Gov site.
If you have any questions or thoughts on the new legislation then get in touch! We want to hear what you think.
Contact Ellie McMahon on firstname.lastname@example.org