Right to Rent Checks

Right to rent

Landlords form part of the Government’s plans for maintaining effective immigration controls.  As a result, landlords, or their agents, must carry out immigration checks to ensure that a tenant or lodger can legally rent the residential property in England. Here, we provide guidance to landlords on the right to rent checks to be carried out, and the follow-up checks required, in order to stay compliant with immigration laws.

Background

You’re a landlord in England with residential property for rent.  You find a suitable tenant, you meet them, verify their references, perform a background check, and once assured take a deposit. With move-in dates sorted and direct debits in place, you can sit back and relax.

Well not quite!

Now you have to meet the immigration obligations by carrying out right to rent checks.

Why? The Government is keen to frustrate individuals, who may not be entitled to reside in the United Kingdom (UK) from accessing services and rental property.

Of course, this all places a large onus on you, the landlord. If you are found renting your residential property to a tenant, who does not or no longer has a right to be in the UK, you could be issued with a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant.

So how do you ensure that you stay on the right side of immigration laws?

Here’s how…

Tenants to be checked

The right to rent requirement, under section 32(6)(a) of the Immigration Act 2014, only apply to residential tenancies that started on or after 1st February 2016 in England. There is an earlier date of 1st December 2014 and after, for residential properties in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton.

As a landlord of a residential property, you must ensure that the tenant, or a lodger, can legally rent the property.

To do so, you must carry out checks on the tenant, or if there is more than one person occupying the property, checks must be made on each tenant aged 18 years of age and over.

For the purposes of the Home Office, tenants can include individuals who are not named on the tenancy agreement

In fact, as long as there are tenants at the residential property, right to rent checks need to be carried out regardless of whether:

  • There is no tenancy agreement in place; or
  • The tenancy agreement is no in writing.

How to carry out right to work checks

There are 3 key steps to conducting right to rent checks. They are:

Obtain

After you have confirmed how many adults intend to use your property, you must request their original documents to prove their right to reside in the UK

The Home Office accepts it can be difficult for non-immigration specialists to know which documents to collect and once, collected, what they mean. So the Home Office has split the documents into List A, Group 1 and Group 2, and List B.

List A, Group 1

Documents in List A, Group 1 documents clearly evidence that the individual has a permanent right to rent in England and the UK.

List A, Group 1, documents include:

  • A passport (current or expired) showing that the holder is a British citizen, or a citizen of the UK and Colonies having the ‘right of abode’ in the UK
  • A passport or national identity card (current or expired) showing that the holder is a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. A registration certificate or document (current or expired) certifying or indicating permanent residence issued by the Home Office, to a national of the European Economic Area country or Switzerland
  • A ‘permanent’ residence, ‘indefinite leave to remain’, ‘indefinite leave to enter’ or ‘no time limit’ card issued by the Home Office (current or expired), to a non-EEA national who is a family member of an EEA or Swiss national
  • A biometric ‘residence permit’ card (current or expired) issued by the Home Office to the holder indicating that the person named has ‘indefinite’ leave in the UK, or has ‘no time limit’ on their stay in the UK
  • A passport or other ‘travel document’ (current or expired) endorsed to show that the holder is either ‘exempt from immigration control’, has ‘indefinite’ leave in the UK, has the ‘right of abode’ in the UK, or has ‘no time limit’ on their stay in the UK
  • A current immigration status document issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the holder is either ‘exempt from immigration control’, has ‘indefinite’ leave in the UK, has the ‘right of abode’ in the UK, or has ‘no time limit’ on their stay in the UK
  • A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

Group 2, List A

Where a tenant presents a document from Group 2, List A, you must ensure that you request another document from this list also.

Documents in Group 2, List A include:

  • A full birth or adoption certificate issued in the UK, Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland, which includes the name(s) of at least one of the holder’s parents or adoptive parents
  • A current full or provisional photo card UK driving licence
  • A letter from HM Prison Service, the Scottish Prison Service or the Northern Ireland Prison Service confirming the holder’s name, date of birth and that they have been released from custody of that service in the 6 months prior to the check
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check by a UK government department or Local Authority and signed by a named official (giving their name and professional address), confirming the holder’s name and that they have previously been known to the department or local authority
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check from an officer of the National Offender Management Service in England and Wales confirming that the holder is the subject of an order requiring supervision by that officer; from an officer of a local authority in Scotland confirming that the holder is the subject of a probation order requiring supervision by that officer; or, from an officer of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland confirming that the holder is the subject of an order requiring supervision by that officer
  • Evidence (identity card, document of confirmation issued by one of HM forces, confirmation letter issued by the Secretary of State) of the holder’s previous or current service in any of HM’s UK armed forces
  • A letter from a UK police force confirming that the holder is a victim of crime and has reported a passport or Home Office biometric immigration document stolen, stating the crime reference number, issued within the 3 months prior to the check
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check signed by a representative of a public authority, voluntary organisation or charity which operates a scheme to assist individuals to secure accommodation in the private rented sector in order to prevent or resolve homelessness
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check confirming the holder’s name signed by the person who employs the holder (giving their name and business address) confirming the holder’s status as employee and employee reference number or their National Insurance number
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check from a UK further or higher education institution confirming the holder’s acceptance on a current course of studies. This letter should include the name of the educational establishment, as well as the name and duration of the course
  • A letter issued within the 3 months prior to the check from a British passport holder who works in (or is retired from) an acceptable profession as specified in the list of acceptable professional persons. The letter should confirm the holder’s name, and confirm that the acceptable professional person has known the holder for longer than three months
  • Benefits paperwork issued by HMRC, a UK Local Authority or Job Centre Plus, on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions or the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development, issued within the 3 months prior to the check
  • Disclosure and Barring Service Certificate (criminal record check) issued within the 3 months prior to the check

List B

If a tenant presents a documents from List B, the document permits the individual a time-limited right to rent the residential property.

Such documents include:

  • A current passport or other ‘travel document’ endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK for a time-limited period

 

  • A current biometric ‘residence permit’ card issued by the Home Office to the holder, which indicates that the named person is permitted to stay in the UK for a time-limited period

 

  • A current ‘residence card’ (including an accession residence card or a derivative residence card) issued by the Home Office to a non-EEA national who is either a ‘family member’ of an EEA or Swiss national or has a ‘derivative’ right of residence
  • A current immigration status document issued by the Home Office to the holder with a valid endorsement indicating that the named person may stay in the UK for a time-limited period.

You can also use the Home Office online service Home Office online service to check whether a person is entitled to rent your property.

Check

Once you have obtained the document from the relevant list, you must check the tenant’s document in their presence.

Again, the Home Office is not expecting you to be an expert in immigration documents or inappropriately issued documents. Landlords are merely expected to make reasonable checks to see if the document is genuine and relates to the person in front of you.

So for instance, ask yourself:

  • Does the document look as if it has been obviously tampered with?
  • Does it contain spelling mistakes?
  • It the photograph, on the document, a true likeness of the tenant?

Copy

Copies of the tenant’s List A Group 1 document or List A Group 2 documents or List B document must be kept on file, with a brief record of the date that you checked the originals.

It is crucial to follow the above steps so as to ensure compliance with UK immigration laws. If the tenant is found to have no legal right to reside in the UK, you will have a statutory excuse against a civil penalty if you can evidence that you have obtained, checked and copied the appropriate documents.

Further information can found on the Home Office website.

Timing of checks

It is possible to obtain copies of the identity documents in advance. However, the right to rent checks must be carried out at the start of the tenancy.

There are instances where the right to rent checks must be made well in advance of the start of the tenancy. For instance, if the tenant has limited leave to stay in the UK, or their visa contains an expiry date, you will need to carry out checks 28 days prior to the start of the tenancy.

Follow-up checks

A landlord’s immigration obligation is a continuing one. For that reason, as a landlord, you must ask the adult tenants for proof of their continued right to rent the property.

Where the tenant provides a document from List B, you must obtain and make a copy of the document and follow the same steps again in 12 months’ time, or when the tenant’s leave is due to expire, or when the document evidencing the tenant’s limited leave is due to expire. Doing so, will provide you with a statutory excuse against a civil penalty, should the tenant be found to no longer have a right to reside in the UK.

However, if the tenant provides a document from List A and you have obtained and kept a copy of the document on file, no further checks will be necessary and you are deemed to have a continuing statutory excuse.

When are right to rent checks not required

As the landlord, you are not required to conduct right to rent checks for certain types of accommodation. They include:

  • Social housing;
  • Care homes, hospices or hospitals;
  • Hostels or refuges;
  • Mobile homes; and
  • Student accommodation.

Checks are also not needed if the tenants in accommodation is:

  • Provided by the local authority or Council
  • ‘Tied accommodation’, provided as part of their job
  • Leased to the tenant for a period of 7 years or longer

You will however, require evidence of the above.

The tenant has limited leave but no documents

It is not unusual for a tenant with limited leave to lack documents because they submitted to the Home Office as part of an application to extend their stay in the UK.

This does not mean that the individual is not entitled to rent the property. Instead, you should check their immigration status by completing a short Home Office online form.

Results are normally relayed within 48 hours.

Important

It cannot be stressed enough, that a, you are required to conduct right to rent checks on all new tenants. This is regardless of whether you believe the tenant to be a British citizen. You still need to gather documentary evidence for all tenants and cannot discriminate.

And another thing…

It was somewhat disconcerting to read according to a Residential Landlords Association (RLA) survey, as many as 20% of landlords admitted they were less likely to rent their residential properties to EU nationals.

Apparently, some landlords felt that the right to rent checks for EU nationals were too onerous. For many, renting their properties to British citizens was much easier.

It must be stressed that following, Brexit, the rights of EU nationals remain the same, at least for the time being. But more importantly, and as highlighted above, right to rent checks must be carried out on all adult tenants. Failure to do so could lead to allegations of discrimination and a breach of immigration laws.

The Home Office Code provides more information for landlords.

Conclusion

Right to rent checks are now part of a landlords continuing immigration obligations. To avoid a civil penalty, landlords must carry obtain documents, as appropriate, depending on the status of the tenant. By following the detailed steps above, landlords can protect themselves against a civil penalty and avoid falling foul of anti-discrimination laws.

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase Immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration help to individuals and families.

Call to action

Need straightforward immigration advice or guidance on the right to rent checks? Contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about from our blogs

Liked this blog? You might like to read:

Brexit Deal or No Deal

Brexit & EU citizens in the UK

Thomas Chase Immigration - EU citizens

What is the UK government’s position on the future rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom (UK), as Brexit negotiations get underway?

Earlier today, Prime Minister Theresa May updated Parliament on the European Union (EU) summit and her proposals for EU citizens in the UK. Those with 5 years’ lawful residence at the point of cut-off, will be granted ‘settled status’, akin to indefinite leave to remain and current permanent residence provisions

The cut-off will be no later than the UK’s exit from the EU and will be agree with the member states.

After, the cut-off date, EU citizens will be able to bring their family members (dependants) to the UK in the same (very restrictive) way as British status.

For those EU nationals in the UK with less than 5 years’ residence, who arrive before the cut-off, it is proposed that they may remain in the UK until they are in a positon to apply for 5 years’ settled status.

The system of EU citizens’ registration is to be streamlined and will not require comprehensive medical insurance in future!

Contentious areas

Let’s not forget, the proposals were dismissed by the European Council President, Donald Tusk, as falling below expectations’.

Key contentious areas in the UK government’s proposals include jurisdictional issues and dependants.

The UK government’s proposal that EU nationals’ rights should be overseen by a UK body or the Home Office is unlikely to be accepted by the EU member states. They believe that jurisdiction of EU rights should fall to the European Court of Justice.

Another contentious area for the member states will be around settled EU citizens and their family members. The proposal by the UK that EU citizens may continue to enjoy freedom of movement for their family members but this should fall under UK immigration rules after the cut-off date, is unlikely to be supported by the member states. Instead, they will prefer to see such rights continue indefinitely.

Conclusion

The announcement to respect EU citizen’s right to permanent residence in the UK is welcome. Yet, the proposals leave many unanswered questions and is unlikely to be the government’s final position as Brexit negotiations continue. The UK will need to resolve the possible contentious issues, of jurisdiction and dependant rights, with the European Council, to not only to provide clarity to EU nationals, but so it may agree reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals residing in the EU and begin trade talks.

 

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration. Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration solutions to businesses, individuals and families looking for friendly, straightforward advice.

Call to action

If you would like further guidance on the rights of EU citizens or assistance with an application for a permanent residence document, contact us at Thomas Chase Immigration to arrange a consultation. Or learn more about immigration from our blogs.

 

You may also like:

EEA permit applications and processing times

Permanent Residence to British citizenship: Is it worth the hassle?

 

UK Residence Card Applications and Processing Times

UK Residence Card processing times

With UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) finding themselves inundated with applications for a UK residence card and certificate from EEA nationals and EEA family permit holders, it could be easy to assume that the application has fallen into a bottomless pit, only to be seen at some point in the distant future.

After all, we have all heard of the ongoing immigration cases sitting with UKVI for years and years.

However, UK residence card applications, and applications to certify permanent residence status,  are different. This is because UKVI’s service standards, as governed by EU regulations, dictate that UKVI must issue the actual UK residence card within 6 months.

The 6 months’ time frame begins from the date that UKVI receives the application, and the required supporting documents that prove that a right of residence exists.

This means that it is crucial for the applicant to submit the correct information and documentation to UKVI as part of the application.

In some instances, the applicant may legitimately require the application to be fast tracked. If so, the UKVI guidance, as of 30 August 2016, states that a request to expedite the UK residence card application should be made via email to:

The following information must be provided with the request to expedite the matter:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Date of application
  • Royal Mail Recorded Delivery number, if applicable
  • Method of payment used when making the application (card, cheque etc.)
  • Case ID or Home Office (HO) reference, if known
  • Date of planned removal, if applicable

UKVI will review the request and decide whether to fast track the matter.

Extenuating or exceptional circumstances which may warrant an application to expedite the application for residence, and even permanent residence, can include:

  • A family emergency such as bereavement or serious illness
  • The need to travel for essential medical treatment overseas

In all cases, documentary evidence of the exceptional, compelling circumstances must be provided together with the information outlined above.

The request should be sent to UKVI via email. From experience, it is often helpful to write to the caseworker directly – the details of which can be found in any previous correspondence from UKVI.

Where there is no correspondence, it may help to write to UKVI at:

UK Visas and Immigration
Permanent Migration
PO Box 306
Liverpool
L2 0QN

It is worth adding that UKVI do not consider family celebrations such as weddings and holidays to be exceptional or compelling ‘family emergencies’ to merit expediting an application.

Further, UKVI does not consider day-to-day difficulties as compelling enough to warrant the application being fast tracked. This includes any reasonable difficulties that non-European family members may experience.

That said, it is still worth making the request to UKVI, explaining the circumstances (difficulties in securing a particular job) and documenting any difficulties experienced as a result of the delay.

Hopefully, there will be little need to take such action.

—————————————————————————————————————-

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals, families and organisations.

Liked this blog?

You might also like:

Apply for an EEA Family Permit

Call to action

Need straightforward immigration advice or assistance with a visa application?

Contact us at [email protected] to arrange a consultation or to request assistance. You can also learn more about UK immigration from our blogs.

Successfully applied to become a British Citizen? Here’s what you must do next!

EU citizens Brexit

Congratulations! Your application to become a British Citizen has been successful and you have the Home Office letter to prove it.

You have contacted the local council to arrange your attendance at the citizenship ceremony and invited your nearest and dearest to witness you becoming a British national.

At the ceremony, you will receive your certificate of British citizenship and welcome pack.

And then onto the next step – applying for your British passport. It’s exciting isn’t it?!

Yes. Only there are a few things that you need to be aware of.

After you attend the citizenship ceremony and receive your certificate of British citizenship, your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is no longer appropriate for your circumstances. That’s because you have formally become British and your BRP does not reflect this.

To address this, the Home Office requires that you return the BRP to them by post within 5 days of attending the ceremony or receiving the certificate of British citizenship.

Did I say ‘require’? It would be better to say ‘insist’ as failure to return your BRP to the Home Office after attending a citizenship ceremony can result in a fine of up to £1,000.

The BRP must be returned to (correct as of today’s date):

POL Returns 
PO Box 195 
Bristol 
BS20 1BT.

The BRP shouldn’t merely be placed in an envelope and posted but should be cut into several pieces and placed in a windowless envelope with a note. That note should contain brief wording such as:

‘I am returning my permit because I have become a British citizen’.

Apart from ensuring that you return your BRP within 5 days of attending the citizenship ceremony or receiving your certificate of British citizenship, it all seems straightforward, right?

Wrong! What happens if you have travel booked or plan to travel but cannot afford to wait 6 weeks to receive your new British passport?

Can you attend the ceremony, receive your certificate of British citizenship, travel with your original overseas passport and re-enter the UK with your BRP? After all, the BRP will show that you are entitled to reside in the UK and hasn’t expired.

The firm answer is no.

Once you have attended the citizenship ceremony or received your certificate of British citizenship you cannot hold onto the BRP and travel with it once you. You will instead need to be in possession of a British passport or Right of Abode Certificate to enter the UK.

If you do have travel booked, in such circumstances, it may be best to delay booking and attending the citizenship ceremony.

Normally, you will have 3 months from receipt of the Home Office letter of your application outcome to book and attend the ceremony. It your travel is booked to take place within that time, it may be best to contact your local council and explain the situation to them.

Council officials are extremely helpful and may possibly arrange for you to attend the ceremony at the latest available date. This may give you sufficient time to complete your travels and return to the UK using your BRP before attending the ceremony. This option will not be available if your certificate of British citizenship has been sent to you instead.

The main thing is that having gone through the process of qualifying for British citizenship, applying and being successful, it wold be a shame to become subject to a fine because you did not return your BRP or at worst, have no way of proving your immigration status when returning to the UK after your travels.

Hopefully, following this short guide will help you focus on what’s important, celebrating the outcome of your application to become a British citizen!