It’s here. As of February 1st, private landlords and letting agents in England must take steps to determine a prospective tenant’s immigration status, and therefore, their right to occupy a house or flat – commonly referred to as “Right to Rent”

The Right to Rent scheme was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014 as part of the government’s reforms to build a fairer and more effective immigration system. 

What happens if a tenant doesn’t have Right to Rent?

The current maximum penalty for each tenant found without right to rent is £3000. However, the Immigration Bill 2015, which currently sits at the committee stage within the House of Lords, introduces a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment for those that fail to perform the checks required under the law. (To track the Bill’s passage, visit here).  

With the threat of hefty fines and the possibility that failing to comply might mean jail time, those involved in renting rooms or properties must take the time to consider how they will achieve compliance.

How do landlords and letting agents comply with Right to Rent?

Under the newly-enacted law, landlords and letting agents must ensure that all tenants over 18 have the right to be in the UK. That involves the following steps:

1. Check that tenants have documents that show they have the right to be in the UK.

2. Where a person’s right to be in the UK will expire during the tenancy, make follow up checks either when the right to rent expires or after 12 months, whichever is later.

3. If a follow up check reveals that a person no longer has the right to be in the UK then an official report needs to be made to the Home Office. 

In addition, landlords and letting agents must retain copies of documents they relied upon to conduct the check, record the date of the initial check as well as the date of any follow up checks they perform.

How can Contego help?

Contego is a due diligence platform that checks people, companies and ID documents. We work within the property sector for both leading UK estate agents and tenant referencing companies, performing detailed checks on individuals and helping them comply with Right to Rent legislation.

We aggregate data from multiple sources, including law enforcement, commercial data suppliers, and credit reference data, as well as performing automated identity document checks. All our checks create an audit trail within the system, with all documents stored securely, and fully encrypted.

If you need help with Right to Rent compliance, then please contact us immediately.