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What is Right to Rent?

8 September 2020 Simon Banks Read time: 2 min
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Simon Banks

As a renter, you need to go through several processes to rent a home. Some of those are fun, such as finding your place and the part where you actually move in. Others might not be quite so exciting but are necessary for moving into your next home.

Right to Rent was introduced in 2014 as part of the Immigration Act and went live in 2016. It's something that all landlords and renters need to pay attention to, especially as there are implications involved with the act.

If you're unsure about Right to Rent and how it impacts the renting process, you've come to the right place. In this guide, we're bringing you everything you need to know about Right to Rent and how it affects your rights as a renter in the UK.

What is Right to Rent?

Right to Rent is a scheme that checks your eligibility to live in the UK legally. That means a landlord or letting agent needs to carry out passport and immigration checks on you before you can move into the property.

Houses in London

The rules currently only apply to England, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland delaying its introduction because work with devolved administrations is still not complete. Subsequently, if you're renting a home in any town or city in England, such as London or Manchester, you will take part in the Right to Rent process.

What else should you know about Right to Rent?

If you're based in England, you will be subject to Right to Rent checks when you move home. Right to Rent was introduced so that people living illegally in the UK would find it harder to get a place to live.

The scheme was controversial when it was introduced in 2014, and some courts have since called it "racially discriminatory". It was also challenged in court in April 2020, but the ruling decided that it should be upheld and had "proportionate means of achieving its legitimate objective".

How does Right to Rent work?

Landlords or letting agents need to check an original item of identification to qualify if you can live in the UK legally. Checks should be carried out on adults over the age of 18 who are moving into the property, even if they aren't named on the tenancy agreement.

Passports

The landlord or agent will also need to make copies of the documents and store them throughout the tenancy, keeping them for a minimum of one year after your rental agreement has finished. Where visas are required, the landlord or agent will also need to follow up to see if they have been renewed successfully.

Eligible documentation includes:

  • A UK/EU passport
  • Permanent residence card
  • Travel document showing indefinite leave to remain in the UK

All checks must be carried out face to face, and documents need to be returned to you once the checks are complete. Checks must be done within 28 days of the tenancy commencing.

What about overseas renters?

If you're a renter moving from overseas, the landlord can arrange a "tenancy in principle", with you providing the required ID upon arrival. However, if you are unable to provide acceptable documents upon arriving, you won't be able to rent a property in England.

Are there any repercussions if a check isn't carried out?

As a renter, you won't face any repercussions if the landlord or letting agent fails to carry out a Right to Rent check. Landlords and agents, however, can be fined an unlimited amount or face up to as much as five years in prison if they don't carry out the checks. If you refuse to cooperate with Right to Rent checks, you won't be able to move into the property. 

Having a right to rent

Right to Rent is an essential part of renting, and you need to comply with regulations to move into a property, no matter where you come from. As long as you have the required documents, however, it should be a relatively straightforward process on the way to getting the keys to your new place.

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