Immigration Act

Right to Rent checks

Right to Rent checks requires landlords/agents to determine the immigration status of all prospective adult tenants by checking ID before the start of a tenancy. It started as a pilot scheme in parts of the West Midlands before being rolled out across England on 1 February 2016.

Where an adult occupier has a time-limited right to remain, landlords and letting agents will need to conduct follow up checks. These checks 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.

ARLA Propertymark has been part of the Immigration Minister’s Right to Rent implementation panel throughout the development of the Immigration Act 2014 and Immigration Bill 2015. Rachel Hartley explains more in this video.

Rachel Hartley

Rachel Hartley
Propertymark Marketing and Communications Manager

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'We have worked with Government extensively to understand their objectives and have helped to shape some of the areas around the scheme. List of accepted ID, user guidance published on gov.uk, levels of enforcement activity and civil penalties and the methods of evaluation used to assess the effectiveness of the scheme are all areas that we’ve talked to the Home Office about.

'The ARLA Propertymark team who are involved in Right to Rent involve Board members who are all experienced practitioners working across the UK. This gives a full range of perspectives and helps to raise a broad range of issues'.

Post-Brexit Right to Rent checks

Despite several political speeches on the Government’s intentions after Britain leaves the EU, there are still no firm plans in place concerning the Right to Rent checks. Therefore, agents must continue to conduct checks in accordance with existing procedures until new guidance is issued.

While it looks likely there will be changes regarding the eligibility to rent based on nationality, it’s important to remember that any future changes cannot be backdated. Where an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, they must not be subject to discrimination.

ARLA Propertymark’s involvement

We continue to remind the Home Office, that in the event of Brexit, agents will not be able to determine which of their tenants are EU or Swiss nationals. We remain part of the Home Office’s Landlord Consultative Panel intending to ensure that certainty for tenants, landlords and agents is achieved as soon as possible in the lead up to Brexit.

Brexit guidance

High court review: no plans to roll the scheme out to the rest of the UK

In March 2019, the High Court delivered a verdict in a case brought to them by parties including the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). Judges ruled that the scheme is leading to discrimination and further evaluation must be carried out before the scheme is rolled out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In February 2017, ARLA Propertymark board members attended Home Office meetings to represent the concerns of members in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland along with flagging the issues that have been prominent during the early phases of the scheme.

Changes concerning visitors from BJ5SSK

In May 2019, changes were made to Border Control ending the process of stamping the passports of visitors from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. These stamps were previously used as identification in Right to Rent checks so will impact some agents. Now visitors with a biometric passport can pass quickly through eGates, those without will see a border force officer but they will be advised verbally of their leave to remain and any associated conditions.

Visitors can legally remain for up to six months without a visa. The Home Office has issued binding written guidance which states that the individual’s Right to Rent can be demonstrated through their passport along with evidence of when they last travelled to or entered the UK. This is likely to be an airline, ferry or Eurostar ticket.

View guidance

Agents must only focus on following the published guidance to create and retain evidence of excuse against penalty. If in the course of a follow-up check an agent finds that a tenant is still resident and cannot provide further valid evidence of their Right to Rent, they must report the case to the Home Office and hand responsibility for any further action to immigration officials.

Overseas students with time-limited ID — exemption process and template letter

Many students secure tenancies which begin weeks or months before they arrive to take up occupancy. This means agents cannot comply with the Code of Practice which requires a face-to-face check to be carried out within 28 days preceding the start of the tenancy.

We raised this issue as part of our ongoing implementation work with the Home Office. They have agreed on a template letter, which can be used to implement an exemption allowing universities to nominate students to take up residence in a specified private rented sector property.

Template letter

Students can begin the process by requesting the letter; however, the correspondence must be on the university’s letterhead and specify the student’s name and date of birth along with the address of the property. Whilst technically this process creates an exemption, it is still best practice to carry out a face-to-face check upon the student’s arrival and retain records according to the code—even if this check is taking place outside of the 28 days preceding the start of the tenancy.

Helping you to comply

Fact sheet

IMMIGRATION ACT FACT SHEETS

Our member-only fact sheets Immigration Act 2016 and Right to Rent Immigration Checks outline the best advice and what you need to do. More info...

London

LANDLORDS' CODE OF PRACTICE

Government guidance for landlords, homeowners and letting agents affected by the Right to Rent checks. More info...

Person looking confused

FAQS ON RIGHT TO RENT

We continue to speak with the Home Office to get answers for the common problems surrounding Right to Rent. More info...