From 1 December 2016, landlords or agents in England could be charged with a criminal offence if they know, or have reasonable cause to believe, that they are letting to an illegal migrant.
Landlords of properties throughout England must check that someone has the right to rent before letting them a property.
KB Law Solicitors regularly advise landlords, property agents on the new immigration right to rent checks and assists them in navigating through the document checks to ensure that the property is let to the tenants who have legal right to stay in the UK with valid permission.
From our experience in assisting our clients, we have compiled an easy to follow stop-by-step checks for the landlords.
1. People you have to check
You must check that your tenant or lodger can legally rent your residential property in England.
Before the start of a new tenancy, you must check all tenants aged 18 and over, even if:
- they are not named on the tenancy agreement
- there is no tenancy agreement
- the tenancy agreement is not in writing
If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, you need to do the check in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy and follow up again near the expiry of that limited time on their permit.
2. How to carry out a check
- Check which adults will use your property as their main home (your ‘tenants’).
- Ask them for original documents that prove they can live in the UK, i.e. a biometric residence permit or a birth certificate with a Council Tax bill.
- Check that the documents give them the right to rent your property.
- Check that each tenant’s documents are genuine and belong to them, with the tenant present.
- Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.
You can be fined up to £3,000 for renting your property to someone who isn’t allowed to rent property in England.
You must check your tenants’ original documents to ensure that:
- the documents are originals and belong to the tenant
- their permission to stay in the UK has not ended
- the photos on the documents are of the tenant
- the dates of birth are the same in all documents (and are believable)
- the documents are not too damaged or don’t look like they have been changed
- if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree
If the tenant is arranging their tenancy from overseas, you must see their original documents before they start living at the property.
If the tenant does not have the right documents
You must use the landlord’s checking service (you will require the tenant’s Home Office reference number to use the service) to check whether the tenant is allowed to rent without the right documents if:
- the Home Office has their documents
- they have an outstanding case or appeal with the Home Office
- the Home Office told them they have ‘permission to rent’
You will generally get an answer within 2 working days.
Don’t rent a property to someone in England if they don’t have the right documents and the landlord’s checking service tells you they aren’t allowed to rent.
You can get further help with your rent check from the Homeoffice by calling the Landlord’s helpline on 0300 069 9799.
3. Make a copy of documents
When you copy the documents:
- make a copy that can’t be changed, such as a photocopy or a good quality photograph
- for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (such as nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, for example a work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
- copy both sides of biometric residence permits
- make a complete copy of all other documents
- record the date you made the copy
- Keep copies of the tenant’s documents for the time they’re your tenants and for one year after.
- Make sure you followdata protection law.
4. Follow-up checks
You must do a follow-up check to make sure your tenant can still rent property in the UK if there is a time limit on their permission to stay.
You can get a fine if you don’t do a follow-up check and your tenant’s permission to stay ends.
Do the follow-up check just before the date that’s furthest away out of:
- the end of your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK
- 12 months after your previous check
- You don’t have to do a follow-up check if there’s no time limit on your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK.
If your tenant fails a follow-up check
You must tell the Home Office if you find out that your tenant can no longer legally rent property in England after doing a follow-up check.
You could be fined or sent to prison for up to 5 years if your tenant fails a follow-up check and you don’t report it to the Home Office.
5. Agents and subletting
You can ask any agents that manage or let your property to carry out the check for you. You should have this agreement in writing.
If a tenant sub-lets the property without you knowing, they’re responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants. They will liable for any civil penalties if they don’t do the check correctly.
If you would like to speak to a member of our team at KB Law Solicitors in respect of how we can assist you in carrying out immigration right to rent checks, please call us on 020 3409 3737 or e mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.