Right to Rent in the UK: Rules and Penalties


Right to rent checks are mandatory checks that landlords and letting agents in England must carry out on all adult tenants aged 18 or over before they can grant a tenancy agreement. These checks are designed to ensure that tenants have the legal right to live in the UK.

There are three ways to carry out a right to rent check:

  1. Manual document check: This involves the landlord or letting agent checking the original versions of the tenant’s acceptable immigration documents in person.
  2. Identity Service Provider (IDSP) check: This involves using the services of an IDSP to verify the authenticity of the tenant’s documents electronically.
  3. Home Office online right to rent checking service: This online service allows tenants to share their immigration status with landlords or letting agents directly.

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Who needs to be checked?

  • All tenants aged 18 or over in England, regardless of nationality.
  • This includes lodgers and anyone named on the tenancy agreement, even if they don’t intend to pay rent.

Who is exempt?

  • British and Irish citizens.
  • Tenants in specific types of accommodation like social housing, student accommodation, or care homes.

How to prove your right to rent:

British and Irish citizens:

  • Show your landlord:
    • a current or expired British passport
    • an Irish passport or passport card
    • a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

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Non-British and Irish citizens:

  • Obtain a share code online using your biometric residence permit, card, or passport details. Your landlord can use this code to verify your status.
  • Alternatively, show your landlord the original documents themselves.

Landlord responsibilities:

  • Conducting right to rent checks is mandatory and failure to do so can lead to penalties.
  • Checks must be carried out before the tenancy starts.
  • Landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants based on nationality or immigration status.

Penalties for non-compliance:

  • Landlords could face a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant if they rent to someone who doesn’t have the right to rent.
  • They may also be unable to evict the tenant through the courts.

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