Right to Rent (RTR) legislation requires that certain types of ID be submitted when renting a property in England to prove your legal status to live in the UK.
When is a RTR check required?
Landlords must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent their residential property in England.
Before the start of a new tenancy, they must check all tenants aged 18 and over, even if:
- they’re not named on the tenancy agreement
- there’s no tenancy agreement
- the tenancy agreement is not in writing
Remember, it’s against the law for landlords to only check people they think are not British citizens. Landlords cannot discriminate against anyone because of where they’re from.
If you are only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, the landlord will need to do the check 28 days before the start of your tenancy.
Tenants' RTR does not need to be checked in these types of accommodation:
- social housing
- a care home, hospice or hospital
- a hostel or refuge
- a mobile home
- student accommodation
Tenants' RTR also does not need to be checked if they live in accommodation that:
- is provided by a local authority
- is provided as part of their job (known as ‘tied accommodation’)
- has a lease that’s 7 years or longer
How do RTR checks work?
Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), there are temporary changes to the way landlords can check documents. This may include asking for documents digitally, making checks on a video call, and what to do if you cannot provide any accepted documents.
- The landlord will ask you and any other tenants for original documents that prove you can live in the UK.
The landlord will check your documents to see if you have the right to rent their property:
- Landlords must check anyone aged 18 or over who pays to use the property as their main home, for example, tenants, sub-tenants and paying house guests.
- Landlords might get a fine if they rent the property to someone who doesn’t have the right to rent.
- Landlords are responsible for carrying out further checks on tenants in the future as well
- Landlords must have evidence they've conducted a RTR check:
- The landlord must make and keep copies of the documents and record the date they made the check.
- The landlord must make a copy that cannot be changed, such as a photocopy or a good quality photograph for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (such as nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, for example, a work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
- The landlord must copy both sides of biometric residence permits
- The landlord must make a complete copy of all other documents
- The landlord must record the date they made the copy
- The landlord must keep copies of the documents for the tenancy term plus up to a year after.
The landlord needs to check that:
- the documents are originals and belong to you
- your permission to stay in the UK has not ended
- the photos on the documents are of you, the tenant
- the dates of birth are the same in all documents (and are believable)
- the documents are not too damaged or do not look like they’ve been changed
- if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why, such as a marriage certificate or divorce decree.
If you do not have the right documents
You must use the landlord’s checking service to check whether you're allowed to rent without the right documents if:
- the Home Office has your documents
- you have an outstanding case or appeal with the Home Office
- the Home Office told you or the landlord that you have ‘permission to rent'.
For example, if you are a Commonwealth citizen but you do not have the right documents - you might still have the right to rent in the UK. The landlord will need your Home Office reference number to use the service.
Landlords legally cannot rent a property to you in England if you do not have the right documents and the landlord’s checking service tells them you are not allowed to rent.
The landlord must do a follow-up check to make sure you can still rent property in the UK if there’s a time limit on your permission to stay.
The landlord can get a fine if they do not do a follow-up check and your permission to stay ends.
Landlords will conduct the follow-up check just before the date that’s after:
- the end of your permission to stay in the UK
- 12 months after the previous check
Because of coronavirus (COVID-19) there are temporary changes to the way landlords can check documents. This may include asking for documents digitally, making checks on a video call, and what to do if someone cannot provide any accepted documents.
A follow-up check is not necessary if there’s no time limit on your permission to stay in the UK.
If you fail a follow-up check
The landlord must tell the Home Office if they find out that you can no longer legally rent property in England after doing a follow-up check.
The landlord could be fined or sent to prison for up to 5 years if they neglect to report a failed RTR check to the Home Office.