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Establishing a Right to Rent

Background

“From 1 December 2014, some landlords will need to check that someone has the right to live in the UK before letting a property to them. This includes landlords who take in lodgers or sub-let property. In most cases you'll be able to carry out the checks without contacting the Home Office. All you need to do is check evidence of a person's identity and citizenship, for example a passport or biometric residence permit.”
Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice

What is the Right to Rent?

Only people with permission or a right to be in the UK have a right to rent property. You should not let to people who do not have the right to be in the UK.

Why do a Right to Rent Check?

The Government has published a new legislation, The Immigration Act 2014, aimed at making it harder for illegal immigrants to stay in the country. The Act includes a new Landlord's Code of Practice, which sets out how landlords, and their agents, can avoid the loss of rental revenue, and the sizable fine involved, should their tenant be found to be here illegally.

The checks establish a "Statutory Excuse" which excuses them from any fine or liability and takes the form of documentary evidence that “reasonable efforts” were taken to ensure the tenant was legally entitled to stay in the UK for the period involved.

To establish a Statutory Excuse, the nationality of the tenant needs to be established, usually by photographic ID. If they're British or from the EEA (the group of European Economic Area countries that includes all of the EU, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, then storing a copy of this proof is enough. If they aren't, some form of residency visa, permit, or some other proof of the right to rent is also required and, as this will usually expire after a given period, will need to be reviewed regularly.

If a person doesn't have the right to live in the UK and is found living in your property, or in a property for which you had the responsibility for making right to rent checks, you'll be asked at that time to show that you made the required checks (including any follow-up checks and reports necessary).

If you don't make right to rent checks or you can't prove that you've made the checks (including initial document checks, any follow-up checks and reports necessary), and you are found letting to someone who doesn't have the right to live in the UK, you may be liable to a civil penalty. This means you may have to pay up to £3,000 per illegal tenant.

In this case, 'you' refers to the person who has responsibility for conducting the checks, i.e. a Landlord, Agent (acting on behalf of the Landlord) or person sub-letting the property.

For further guidance on what your responsibilities include, please see the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370559/guidance_0_summary_checklist.pdf

Please see sections 6 and 7 of the Code of Practice, or the Government website, for more information on what happens if you don't comply with the legislation: : https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370555/guidance_3_if_you_do_not_check.pdf

This system is an automated identity document verification and storage system designed to aid landlords and their agents in carrying out the new Right to Rent checks. To avoid any risk of charges of discrimination, all potential tenants must be checked, not just those for whom the agent or landlord may have doubts about.

What is a Right to Rent Check?

If your property falls under the scheme (see section 1) and you're letting to adults, you must undertake the following checks:

  1. Before allowing an adult to live in your property, check that they have documentation that show they have the right to live in the UK
  2. Where a person's right to live in the UK will expire during the tenancy, make follow-up checks either when the right expires or after 12 months from the start date of the tenancy, whichever is later
  3. If a follow-up check shows that a person no longer has the right to be in the UK, make an official report to the Home Office

ALL adults who will live in your property should be checked, regardless of what you believe their nationality to be. This includes people who'll live in the property but aren't named on the tenancy agreement. You should check all people over the age of 18 who'll live in your property as their only or main home.

Note: if a person lives in one place only, this is their only, or main, home. If they live in multiple properties, you should check them unless you're satisfied they have use another property as their only, or main, home.

This system is an automated identity document-verification and storage system, designed to aid landlords and their agents in carrying out the new right to rent checks. To avoid any risk of charges of discrimination, all potential tenants must be checked, not just those whom the agent or landlord may have doubts about.

How to Complete a Right to Rent Check

In most cases, you'll only need to check a person's documents before you first allow them to live in your property (initial right to rent checks), as they'll be British, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss nationals, or a non-EEA national with the right to live in the UK indefinitely.

In some cases, initial checks will show that a person has the right to live in the UK for a limited time period. In these cases, you should make a follow-up check at the appropriate time, as detailed below. If the follow-up check shows that the person no longer has the right to live in the UK, you should make a report to the Home Office.

To check that a person has the right to live in the UK, before allowing them to live in your property, you should take these four basic steps:

  1. Find out who'll be living in your property
  2. Check that these people have a document on List A or List B (you can fund further information regarding these lists on the link at the bottom of this section) and take reasonable steps to check that the document is genuine, in the presence of the people involved (in person or via live video link). If you suspect that a document's false, has been tampered with, or the photo or date of birth don't match with the person in front of you, you shouldn't let your property to that person
  3. Retain a copy of the document(s) and record the date of the check, plus the date of any follow-up checks needed
  4. Keep the copies of the documents safe throughout the tenancy and for at least one year afterwards

For the full details of the checks that you must complete, the Government have issued this checklist: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370559/guidance_0_summary_checklist.pdf

You can complete these checks and upload the necessary via our new solution CheckRight, which you can access through the site, using the details given to you by your Account Manager.

Follow-up Checks

You should make a follow-up check if:

To make a follow-up check, you should:

Making a Report to the Home Office

You should make a report to the Home Office if:

To make a report to the Home Office, you should fill in this online form: https://www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime

Using CheckRight

You'll be issued with a unique username and password which will give you specific rights and access to the site.

Once you've input your username and password you'll need to tick to confirm you agree to the Terms and Conditions, and then click Login.

On the home-page you then have several options:

Here's an overview of the five steps involved when using CheckRight, which are expanded on later in this guide:

  1. The agent or landlord should ask for photographic proof of identity and assure themselves that the photographic ID is a good likeness of, and relates to, each of the people that will be staying in the property
  2. A scan should be taken of this photographic ID from the original document. This should be at a reasonable resolution. A second scan of the visa or residency permit will be needed for people from outside the EEA
  3. Create a new check for each person and upload the scanned documentation to the system
  4. Identify the tenant's nationality. If the document's from the UK, the EEA or Switzerland then you have established a Right to Rent. If not, the potential tenant will need to demonstrate they have a right to reside in the UK, which will typically be by holding a residency visa in their passport, which will also need to be scanned and uploaded onto the system
  5. Store a copy of the report somewhere you can find it again

Start a new Right to Rent Check

Click on Start a new Right to Rent check and tick "Yes" or "No" for the questions:

These questions are mandatory and require yes to be the answer in order to show a tenant has the legal right to reside in the UK. If you select no you will receive a warning message and be unable to complete the check.

You will then need to input the tenant's details:

Click Start Entering Details. If you've already entered someone of the same name previously, the system will ask you to confirm that this isn't a duplicate.

You'll then receive confirmation of the reference number and that the tenant checks have been started.

You'll then need to click Enter Details to continue and confirm the details of the documents along with the verification check.

Photographic Proof of Identity

The next option is to Upload a scan; here you add the document by browsing, selecting a file and uploading. You have the option on the dropdown box next to this to confirm which document you are uploading:

Please ensure you refer to the Government's full list of acceptable documents: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/370484/document_guidance_for_landlords.pdf

You also have the option to upload more than one document.

If you've uploaded a visa or permit, you'll then be asked to confirm the expiry date of the document and the tenancy end date in the box that appears below the uploaded document. The MRZ check should automatically populate; however if it does not you will need to input this information.

Scanning the Document

The MRZ check should automatically populate the Nationality, however if it does not you then have a dropdown to asking you to confirm the passport/license/ID nationality. What appears on the page next depends on which nationality you choose. You'll be given guidance on what information you need, for example:

If you choose a County within the EEA or Switzerland:

If you choose a County outside the EEA or Switzerland:

Find the nationality from the document as this is the key information used when deciding if a prospective tenant has the right to rent.

GBR United Kingdom
AUT Austria
BEL Belgium
BGR Bulgaria
HRV Croatia
CYP Cyprus
CZE Czech Republic
DNK Denmark
EST Estonia
FIN Finland
FRA France
DEU Germany
GRC Greece
HUN Hungary
ISL Iceland
IRL Ireland
ITA Italy
LVA Latvia
LIE Liechtenstein
LTU Lithuania
LUX Luxembourg
MLT Malta
NLD Netherlands
NOR Norway
POL Poland
PRT Portugal
ROU Romania
SVK Slovakia
SVN Slovenia
ESP Spain
SWE Sweden
CHE Switzerland

If the tenant is from the UK, EEA or Switzerland, then they have the right to rent in the UK. The complete list of these countries, with their three-letter ISO country codes (such as you might find in a passport or driving license) is shown at the end of this document (Identify the Nationality).

If from outside the EEA, then another scan will be needed for the residency visa page of their passport, or some other proof of right to rent, and the expiry date of that visa or permit will need to be checked against the end date for the tenancy.

If the identity document is from outside of the EEA then their right to stay is dependent on, and lasts only as long as, the period of any residency visa or Right to Remain document they might hold. If this expires before the end of the tenancy, a new document will be needed to prove that they still have the right to remain in the UK.

If that visa expires and nothing replaces it then this must be reported to the Home Office, or a fine may be issued.

You then need to click “prepare final report” at the bottom of the page. The system will prepare the PDF report with the information you've given. This PDF report will pop up on your screen. It will also be emailed to the email address on file for your login.

At the bottom of the PDF report it will show the decision outcome as either Accept with a green tick or Decline with a Red cross.

Remember that this document could form part of your legal defence in court so you should save a copy somewhere that you will be able to find it again and that is likely to be backed up safely, such as a network drive or in your tenant management software if you have it.

You'll need to store it securely throughout the tenancy and for a year after the tenancy ends.

Checks now in Progress

Click on View checks now in progress which will bring up any existing checks that have been logged on the system. You'll see different amounts of checks depending on your user rights:

In the top panel you'll be able to filter by month. You'll also see a panel below this that has columns showing an overview of the check:

You can sort and filter the checks by using any of the above headings.

Jump to an Existing Check

Enter the reference for the check and then click Find.

You'll then be presented with the "check in progress" and the columns showing an overview of the check: