Landlords are required by law to check that anyone renting a new property or entering into a new tenancy agreement from 1 February 2016 has a 'right to rent'. Right to rent checks should also be made where a:
- new joint tenancy is granted to one or more of the original joint tenants and new tenants
- tenancy is assigned with the landlord's consent
- tenancy agreement is varied to allow new adults to occupy the property
Student halls of residence which are owned and managed by a further or higher education institution are exempt from landlord immigration checks. There are some other limited exemptions - these are explained on the UKCISA website.
A right to rent means that the tenant either does not require immigration permission to be in the UK, or requires it and has it, and it has not expired. A person who is not lawfully in the UK has no right to rent, unless the Home Office has explicitly given that person permission to occupy premises. Landlords who rent to a tenant who doesn't have a right to rent can be fined £1000.
The landlord or letting agent will ask to see original documents that show a tenant or prospective tenant has the right to rent. The landlord is required to make and keep copies of the documents provided. The Home Office has produced a guide to document checks for landlords, but tenants can also use it to see what they need to provide.
Landlords can request a right to rent check from the Home Office if a tenant can't provide the required documents because they are waiting for a decision on an immigration application or an appeal. This service is free and landlords should get a response within two days.
If you have limited immigration permission to be in the UK, for example Tier 4, then your landlord must check your immigration permission again after 12 months, or before your immigration permission expires, whichever is later. If your right to rent expires, for example if you overstay your immigration permission, then your landlord should report this to the Home Office. Your landlord is not required to evict you, but the Home Office may take action against you.
There is more information on the Shelter website. International students may find it useful to read the UKCISA web page which explains more about the landlord immigration checks, and what documents you will need to provide.