A Simplified Guide for Busy Landlords: Understanding Right to Rent Checks

A Simplified Guide for Busy Landlords: Understanding Right to Rent Checks

As a landlord, it's crucial to stay informed and compliant with the Right to Rent regulations. This guide breaks down what you need to know, making it easy to understand and implement.

Who Needs to Do the Checks?

If you're a landlord or letting agent in England, you must ensure your tenants have the right to live in the UK. You can conduct these checks yourself or appoint an agent. If an agent is doing this on your behalf, make sure you have a written agreement detailing who is responsible to avoid potential penalties.

When to Conduct the Checks

All tenants and lodgers over the age of 18 must be checked, regardless of their nationality. These checks should be done up to 28 days before the start of the tenancy. For tenants arriving from abroad, you can agree to a tenancy subject to successful Right to Rent checks upon their arrival.

How to Complete the Checks

Manual Checks:

  • Obtain and verify the original document from the tenant, as listed in Annex A of the Landlord's Guide.
  • Perform checks in the tenant's presence, which can be in person or virtually.
  • Retain a copy of the document for your records.

Identity Verification Technology (IDVT):

  • Use a certified Identity Service Provider (IDSP).
  • Ensure the tenant's details match their documents.
  • Keep proof of the check.

Home Office Online Checking Service:

  • Use the tenant's 9-digit share code, valid for 90 days, to access their right to rent status.
  • Verify the tenant's likeness through a photograph in person or via video link.
  • Save evidence of the check, such as a screen capture or PDF.

Understanding the Types of Right to Rent

  • Unlimited Right to Rent: Once verified, keep evidence for the duration of the tenancy and at least one year after. No further checks are needed.
  • Limited Right to Rent: Establish a "statutory excuse" by checking all prospective tenants. This excuse lasts for one year, until the tenant's permission to stay expires, or until their documentation expires. Follow-up checks must be conducted before this period ends to maintain your statutory excuse.

The Consequences of Non-Compliance

The stakes for non-compliance have risen. As of 13 February 2024, fines have increased to £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier for first offences. Repeat breaches within three years can lead to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier. Severe cases might not only hit your wallet but could also lead to legal repercussions, including potential prison time for ongoing offences.

Right to Rent for UK and Non-UK Citizens

  • UK and Irish Citizens: Can prove their right to rent with a passport, passport card, or citizenship certificate. Alternatives and online verification methods are also available.
  • Non-UK Citizens: Can provide their right to rent share code obtained online, which verifies their residency status through the GOV.UK service.

Final Thoughts

Right to Rent checks are more than a formality; they're a legal requirement with significant consequences for non-compliance. By following this guide, you can ensure you're fulfilling your obligations as a landlord, keeping the renting process smooth for you and your tenants. Remember, staying informed and diligent is the key to compliance and avoiding hefty fines.

At My House Online, we can carry out your Rights to Rent checks for you, regardless of whether we manage your property or not. If you need any help with such services, get in touch at 01553 670179 or email office@myhouseonline.co.uk.

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