This guest post was provided by the Immigration Advice Service, a team of solicitors dedicated to providing individuals and businesses with specialist immigration advice.  


From the 1st February, landlords across England will need to conduct ‘Right to Rent’ checks to ensure prospective tenants have the right to rent in the UK.

According to Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, landlords and agents must check the immigration status of every potential tenant. Currently, the regulations are already applicable across the West Midlands, but as of February, every landlord in the country will be responsible for carrying out such checks.

Understandably, the new scheme has caused some confusion, but considering non-compliance could see landlords facing severe penalties, it is vital property owners familiarise themselves with the new legislation. This guide will run through the key aspects of the Right to Rent scheme:

Who has to carry out Right to Rent checks?

Landlords must carry out Right to Rent checks whenever they’re letting out a property.

It is possible for landlords to pass responsibility for conducting Right to Rent checks over to their agent, but this must be confirmed in writing by both parties.

Tenants will also have to do Right to Rent checks if they choose to sub-let. This rule applies to both private and social housing tenants.

What happens if landlords fail to do Right to Rent checks?

Non-compliance could see landlords facing fines of up to £3,000 per occupier and, in severe cases, repeat offenders could face a jail term.

How to conduct a Right to Rent check

Many landlords have voiced concerns that the scheme could be costly and time-consuming. However, by integrating the checks into the tenant vetting process, property owners can save time and abide by the law. There are four basic steps to conducting a Right to Rent check:

  1. Establish the adults who will be using the property as their only or main home
  2. Request original versions of acceptable documents
  3. Check the documents while the owners are present or via a live video link
  4. Make copies of the documents and record the date in which checks were made

Those conducting necessary checks aren’t expected to have extensive knowledge regarding the authenticity of passports and identity documents, but landlords are encouraged to look out for any features that indicate the documents may have been altered. Most accepted documents contain security features such as holographic images and watermarks.

Which documents are considered acceptable proof of a Right to Rent?

Numerous documents can be presented to prove the tenant has the right to rent in the UK. This could include passports showing the holder is a British Citizen, selected national identity cards, or relevant registration certificates. However, the full list of acceptable documents is extensive and split into two categories:

List A: Documents that show the tenant has an unlimited right to rent in the UK. If a prospective tenant can provide the landlord with one of these documents, there is no need for any repeat checks.

List B: Documents that prove the tenant can rent in the UK on a time-sensitive basis. Further checks are likely to be required at a later date to ensure the tenant can remain in the UK.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has created this full list of accepted documents.

Retaining evidence

Records of each obtained document must be kept. This can either be a photocopy or a scanned copy as a jpeg or pdf. These copies must be kept for the duration of the tenancy and for a further 12 months after the tenancy ends. By keeping these records, landlords can prove they carried out the required checks if necessary.

If you would like to know more about how the Right to Rent Scheme could affect you as a landlord, contact us at Able Property Trust and we’ll be happy to help.