Landlords resolving to check tenants’ right to rent

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Resolutions – we make them and all too often break them before January is out. In her first column of the year, Alex Byard (pictured) discusses why all landlords will be resolving to check new tenants’ right to rent.

From February 1 this year, private landlords in England will have to check all adults living in their properties, whether they are named in the tenancy agreement or not, have the right to stay in the UK.

This will be known as the “right to rent” and checks can be done up to 28 days before the tenancy is due to start. Those who fail to comply will face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant.

What does this mean for landlords?

There are some landlords who will not need to make right to rent checks, but the new legislation does apply if you fall into one of the following categories:

Private landlord

You have a lodger

You are subletting a property

Agent appointed by a landlord

What do I need to check? Landlords should ask to see identity documents for all new tenants, ensure they are valid and take copies, making a note of the date you carried out the check.

You need to prove your property is to be occupied as the tenant’s only or main home and that the person has the right to reside in the UK.

The government has provided guidance on what will be accepted as suitable evidence. These include a: UK passport; European Area passport or identity card; Permanent Residents Card or travel documents showing indefinite leave to remain; Certificate of Registration or neutralisation as a British citizen. Make sure dates of birth are the same on all documents and if there are discrepancies in the name, ask for supporting evidence such as marriage or divorce papers.

How do I check if my tenant has the right to rent? There is an online checking tool available on www.gov.uk that will guide you through the process. It also enables you to request a check on anyone who has an outstanding case with the Home Office.

What does this mean for tenants? Tenants must expect landlords to ask for identification if they are entering into a new rental agreement after February 1. Anyone who sublets a room will also have to make right to rent checks. The legislation was introduced as part of the government’s bid to build a fair and more effective immigration system. It was launched first in the West Midlands in December 2014 and these incoming changes are the next stage of a national rollout.

* Alex Byard is a specialist in property litigation at Sheffield’s Taylor&Emmet LLP. For more information, telephone 0114 218 4000, visit Click here and {http://www.landlorddisputes|Click here|Click here)