Immigration Act and Right to Rent Checks

Right to Rent checks requires landlords or agents to check ID to determine the immigaration status of all prospective adult tenants before the start of a tenancy. Right to Rent checks started as a pilot scheme in parts of the West Midlands in December 2014 before rolling out across England on 1 February 2016. The rules do not currently apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Where an adult occupier has a time limited right to remain, landlords and letting agents will need to conduct follow up checks. These need to be made 12 months from the initial check or at the expiry of the individual’s right to be in the UK, whichever is the later.

We have been part of the landlord panel throughout development of Immigration Act 2014 and Immigration Bill 2015 and have delivered a series of events across England to support letting agents in complying with the legislation.

New Offences Came Into Force on 1 December 2016

The Home Office announced on 2 November 2016 that the date for new offences under Immigration Act 2016 relevant to the private rented sector in England. These offences came into force after 1 December 2016.

These measures followed the introduction of civil penalties created under Immigration Act 2014 and aim to:

  • Make it easier for private landlords to evict illegal migrant tenants.
  • Create new criminal offences for rogue landlords and agents who knowingly, or with reasonable cause to believe, let to illegal migrants.

The offences are part of wider Government measures to tackle illegal immigration and protect public services and access to the private rented sector for lawful residents.


  • Landlords 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 will be able to obtain a notice from the Home Office to end tenancies for occupants with no Right to Rent.

The vast majority of landlords who are found to be renting to illegal migrants and who have not carried out Right to Rent checks, where the scheme has been implemented in their area, will be dealt with under the civil penalty regime. The new offences will be targeted at the smaller number of rogue landlords who are intent on flouting the law.

Overseas Students With Time Limited ID

Agents carrying out Right to Rent checks on overseas students in joint tenancies prior to the start of the academic year should be aware of an exemption process.

Many students secure tenancies which begin weeks or months before they arrive to take up occupancy, meaning that agents cannot comply with the Code of Practice requirement to carry out a face-to-face check within the 28 days preceding the start of the tenancy.

ARLA Propertymark raised this issue as part of ongoing implementation work with the Home Office who have now agreed a template letter that can be used to implement an exemption in place for universities to nominate students to take up residence in a specified property in the private rented sector.

The student can activate the process by requesting the letter however the correspondence must be on the university’s letterhead and must specify the student’s name and date of birth along with the address of the property.

While technically this process creates an exemption, it remains best practice to carry out a face to face check on the student’s arrival and retain records according to the code, even if this check is taking place outside of the 28 days of the start of the tenancy.

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Right to Rent Phase Three 

In February 2017 the Home Office held meetings in Cardiff and Edinburgh with stakeholders and representatives of the devolved administrations to begin the process of implementing Right to Rent checks in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

ARLA Propertymark board members attended the meetings and represented the concerns of members in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland along with flagging the issues that have been prominent during phases one and two of the scheme. More info...

Helping You Comply

Fact Sheet Icon

Our member only fact sheet outlines the latest advice around the Immigration Act 2016 and Right to Rent checks

Download our fact sheets

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We are regularly speaking with the Home Office to order to get answers for many of the common Right to Rent issues.

Frequently asked questions


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Government guidance for landlords, homeowners and letting agents affected by right to rent immigration checks.

Landlords' code of practice


If you have any enquiries about Right to Rent checks you can contact the ARLA Propertymark Legal Helpline on 0330 124 1212 or email Rachel Hartley, Marketing and Communications Manager.

useful links

Useful Links

ID examples for checks
UK Visas and Immigration Enforcement guidance on the rules to follow to check documents with examples of acceptable documents from 1 February 2016.

Our response to the Home Office proposals for an Immigration Bill 2015
Read our consultation response from August 2015 to the Home Office proposal for an Immigration Bill.

What the checks mean for you
This article by the Home Office discusses the Right to Rent checks and what they actually mean for private landlords and tenants.

Evaluation of the Right to Rent scheme: Full evaluation report of phase one
This Home Office evaluation reports on the impact of phase one of the Right to Rent scheme.

Research with landlords, letting agents and tenants
This Home Office report is part of the evaluation of phase one of the Right to Rent scheme.

Mystery shopping to test the potential for discrimination within the sector
This research published by the Home Office tested whether landlords and letting agents discriminated against potential tenants as a result of the Right to Rent provisions of the Immigration Act 2014.