What is ‘right to rent’?

11 Mar 2016

One of the biggest challenges landlords will face in 2016 is the new ‘right to rent’ legislation. From February 1st, anyone letting a property in England will be prohibited from letting to a person who does not have the ‘right to rent’. The new measures, which form part of the Immigration Act, are intended to clamp down on landlords who provide substandard or overcrowded accommodation.

What does this mean for landlords?

Under this legislation, landlords must check the rights and identities of all prospective tenants. Any landlord who breaches this legislation will receive a fine of £3000 per illegal occupant. It’s therefore highly important to establish and maintain mandatory checks outlined below.

Who to check

You must check that any prospective tenant can legally rent your property in England. An individual will have the ‘right to rent’ in the UK provided they are present in the country lawfully, in accordance with immigration laws.

You must check all tenants aged 18 and over even if

  • They are not named on the tenancy agreement
  • There is no tenancy agreement in place
  • They are a ‘lodger’

It’s vitally important to remember that as a landlord, you must check all potential new tenants; it is against the law to only check people who you think aren’t British Citizens.

How and when to check the ‘right to rent’

As part of the checking process a landlord must see:

Either one of the following*

  • A passport or identity card from an EEA country or UK
  • UK immigration status document endorsed with unlimited leave

Or two of the following*

  • UK driving licence
  • UK birth certificate
  • Evidence of current or previous service in UK armed forces
  • Benefits paperwork

*Please note this is not an exhaustive list. Should you wish to find out more about documentation checks, please visit www.gov.uk.

These documents must be checked in the presence of the prospective tenant to confirm identity and copies must be taken of each page. These copies must be kept during the tenancy, plus twelve months after the tenancy has ended.


Certain types of property and residential tenancy agreements are excluded from ‘the right to rent’ regulations. These include: halls of residence at university and social housing. Please see gov.uk for more information.


If you would like to know more or need advice, please call the government’s landlord helpline on 0300 069 9799.

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