The “Right To Rent” Scheme In The UK
‘Right to Rent’ is a scheme (the ‘Scheme’) whereby all private landlords in England, or their agents, are obliged to review the immigration status of an incoming tenant prior to renting out their Property, thereby establishing the tenant’s legal right to be in the UK and therefore their right to rent.
The process is relatively straight forward and is supported by both a helpline and online aid for landlords, agents and prospective tenants seeking further information. In the majority of cases, landlords can carry out the checks themselves by reviewing and retaining copies of documentation evidencing the tenant’s permanent or time-limited right to rent. A list of acceptable documentation is available from the Home Office, and by way of example, includes a passport or residence permit.
In more complex cases where a tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can request the Home Office to conduct a check with a simple ‘yes/no’ response aimed to be provided within two days. The validity of a ‘yes’ response would run for 12 month allowing the landlord to rent for this period with a repeat check to be conducted on expiry of the term.
This Scheme forms part of the Immigration Act 2014 and introduces new sanctions on illegal immigration. The Scheme was introduced in the West Midlands on 1 December 2014, and following the success of this pilot study, the Home Office has announced an extension across England from 1 February 2016. Tenancies in the remaining parts of England commencing on or after this date will be subject to the Scheme.
Landlords should be aware that if a tenant is found to be residing illegally in the UK resulting from a failure to carry out the necessary checks, a penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant may be imposed upon the landlord. Tenants complying with conditions placed on them may be exempt from the Scheme and landlords would be advised to seek written confirmation to this effect from the Home Office prior to renting out their Property.