The Home Office introduced Right to Rent checks with the aim of making the UK an unviable environment for people who try to live here illegally. Tenancies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not currently subject to Right to Rent checks. 

As a private tenant in England, if your tenancy began on or after 1 February 2016 and the property you are renting is your main home, you must prove that you have a legal status to live in the UK.

Right to Rent checks

When carrying out a Right to Rent check, your landlord or letting agent must: 

  • Check an original form of ID (from a list of acceptable identification documents)
  • Check the documents of any other adult occupiers (aged 18+, even if they're not named on the tenancy agreement)
  • Make copies and securely store them throughout the tenancy and for at least one year after
  • Make follow up checks where identification is time-limited (e.g. student visa)
  • Return original documents once the check is complete

Covid-19 update
Ordinarily, checks with all prospective occupiers must be carried out face to face using original documents. However, as of 30 March and until further notice, arrangements have been amended to allow for checks to be made via video call as a result of the pandemic.

Take a look at the Government’s guidance A short guide on right to rent for more information.

Right to Rent for overseas tenants

If you are trying to arrange a tenancy from abroad, landlords can agree a tenancy in principle subject to an ID check on arrival. If you are unable to provide the accepted documents confirming your identity and right to live in the UK then you will not be able to rent property in England.

Application with the Home Office
If the Home Office are holding your documents because of an ongoing application or outstanding case/appeal, your landlord (or letting agent) can request that they carry out the Right to Rent check. This can be done via an online form or by calling the Landlords Helpline on 0300 069 9799, they will need your Home Office reference number to do this.

Time-limited stay in the UK
Landlords and letting agents have to make a repeat check if there’s a time limit on your right to stay in the UK. This means that they will ask to see your documents again just before your permission to stay runs out or after 12 months (whichever is longer). If the follow-up check shows that you no longer have the right to live in the UK, they must report it to the Home Office.

If you don’t have any restrictions on your right to stay in the UK (such as if you are a British citizen, from a European Economic Area (EEA) nation or a non-EEA national with the right to be in the UK indefinitely), then your landlord or letting agent won’t need to carry out any further checks.

How do Right to Rent checks effect subletting?

If you are subletting the property you rent, it will be your responsibility to to carry out a Right to Rent check and retain evidence of it before the occupier moves in. Failure to do so will leave you accountable for any enforcement action or fines. You can ask your landlord to carry out the checks on your behalf, this arrangement must be agreed in writing and you should retain a copy as proof. 

How subletting works

Subletting is when a tenant lets out part of the property which they themselves are renting. You must always get written consent from the landlord before subletting. 

Disqualified tenancy due to immigration status

It is possible that the Home Office may send your landlord a notice, telling them that someone living at their property is disqualified from renting as a result of their immigration status.

Under these circumstances, landlords must take reasonable steps to end the tenancy or serve a notice asking the tenant to leave. The minimum required notice period for occupiers to vacate a property is 28 days. 

If there are both legal and disqualified tenants occupying the property, landlords are expected to give any disqualified tenants a notice requiring them to leave within 28 days. They can then allow the remaining legal tenants to continue their tenancy by reassigning it to one or more remaining adult occupiers who have a Right to Rent.

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