Right to Rent

Someone who isn’t a relevant national but who has leave to enter or remain in the UK has a right to rent accommodation. Leave to enter or remain means that the person has permission from the Home Office to be in the UK.

Immigration checks by landlords

From 1st December 2014, landlords letting private rented accommodation to new tenants must check that their immigration status is lawful before allowing them to rent the property. At first, these rules only apply in the West Midlands but other areas across the UK will follow at a later date.

Agents must carry out the checks if they’re acting on a landlord’s behalf and have agreed to do them. The checks also apply when people rent out all or part of their home, for example, when taking in a lodger or when subletting.

Landlords in these areas, who let private rented accommodation must check that the tenant(s), and any other adult(s) who’ll be living there, are in the country lawfully. Anyone who rents accommodation to someone who isn’t in the country lawfully without carrying out the checks may receive a civil penalty.

Who is a relevant national?

Relevant nationals are British citizens, EEA nationals and Swiss nationals. All of these people can rent accommodation but will still have to show evidence that they fall into one of these groups.
Who has a right to rent?

Someone who isn’t a relevant national but who has leave to enter or remain in the UK has a right to rent accommodation. Leave to enter or remain means that the person has permission from the Home Office to be in the UK.

There is also a limited right to rent when a person’s leave to enter or remain in the UK is for a limited period of time. People with a limited right to rent can rent accommodation but the landlord must do follow-up checks, usually when the person’s leave is due to expire.

In all cases, evidence of leave to enter or remain must be provided to the landlord who must keep a copy.

There is a right to rent tool on the GOV.UK website, which landlords can use to check if their property is affected and how to carry out a right to rent check.

The right to rent checks only apply to:

  • Landlords, homeowners and letting agents
  • All adults aged 18 and over living at the property
  • New tenancy agreements starting on or after 1 December 2014

If you let a property after this date to someone who doesn’t have the right to rent, you could be fined up to £3,000.

The new Immigration Bill will make it a criminal offence to rent accommodation to illegal immigrants.