Tenant Referencing and Right to Rent

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One major part of the tenant referencing process should incorporate the Right to Rent immigration checks, so that landlords won’t be charged for letting their property to an illegal immigrant. This process must be carried out 28 days before the start of the tenancy or the penalty charge could be £3,000 per tenant and this will also apply to private landlords who take in lodgers.

If this important step in tenant background checks hasn’t been carried out properly, then landlords will be at risk of being charged with a criminal offence, if regulators have sufficient cause to think the tenant is an illegal immigrant. However, this can be avoided if landlords and agents take copies of the required documents, allowing them to avoid the penalty charges.

How to incorporate a Right to Rent check into tenant referencing for Private Landlords

It is a lot easier for private landlords to cover the Right to Rent checks using a tenant referencing agency, as they will be able to incorporate these checks into the overall tenant reference service. For those private landlords who would prefer to avoid slowing the process down or paying for an agency, there are ways to carry out the Right to Rent check independently.

Obtain the tenant’s original documents that are accepted by the government which allow them to live in the UK.

Check the document is valid with the tenant in attendance.

Keep a copy of the documents on file with the date they were taken so that there is due diligence in place.


How do I copy documents for Right to Rent checks?

Make a copy of the documents and keep them on file with the recorded date of the check. The part of the passport which needs to be copied is the page which has the: photo, expiry date, full name, date of birth, signature, nationality and biometric details if applicable.


What documents do tenants need to provide for Right to Rent checks?

Current or expired passports are considered acceptable documentation for all British, Irish and EU citizens. However, if a prospective tenant is a British or Irish citizen without a passport, their birth certificate plus another photo form of identity is considered enough by the government.

Documents which are accepted by the UK Government:

The list of accepted documents below allow the holder a permanent right to rent in the UK

  • UK passport
  • EEA/Swiss national passport/identity card
  • Registration Certificate or document certifying permanent residence of EEA/Swiss national
  • EEA/Swiss family member permanent Residence card
  • Biometric Residence Permit with unlimited leave
  • Passport or travel document endorsed with unlimited leave
  • UK immigration status document endorsed with unlimited leave
  • A certificate of naturalisation or registration as a British citizen

These accepted documents below must be shown alongside one of the others in this list

  • UK birth or adoption certificate
  • Full or provisional UK driving licence
  • A letter from HM Prison Service
  • A letter from a UK Government Department or Local Authority
  • A letter form National Offender Management Service
  • Evidence of current or previous service in UK armed forces
  • A letter from a police force confirming that certain documents have been reported stolen
  • A letter from a private rented sector access scheme
  • A letter of attestation from an employer
  • A letter from a UK further or higher education institution
  • A letter of attestation from a UK passport holder working in an acceptable profession
  • Benefits paperwork
  • Criminal record check

The documents listed below are accepted for time-limited Right to Rent

  • A valid passport endorsed with a time-limited period
  • Biometric immigration document with permission to stay for time-limited period
  • Non-EEA national residence card
  • UK immigration status document with a time-limited endorsement from Home Office

Once you have obtained the correct documents from the lists above, private landlords will need to make sure that they are valid and will meet the government requirements should they be investigated.


What to look for in a UK and Colonies passport:

  • The passport should be a true likeness of the holder
  • Check the date of birth on the passport is consistent with any other evidence they have provided of their date of birth during the tenant referencing process
  • The document shouldn’t show signs of being interfered with
  • The passport should have ‘right of abode’ detailed in it
  • The passport must have an expiry date but can be accepted if the time has passed

The holder’s name should be consistent with other documents provided throughout the tenant referencing process and should be accompanied with a supporting document explaining a name change if relevant, such as marriage or deed-poll certificate which should also be copied along with the original passport.

When a passport or other document of travel has been endorsed to remain for a time limited period, the landlord will need to carry out a further check to maintain their statutory excuse against any penalty that could be made against them should they let their property to the tenant.

To find out more about the full list of documents that are accepted by the government, and for a list of frequently asked questions read this article here.


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Not ready to start referencing your tenants just yet? Check out our comprehensive guide:

Everything You Need to Know About Tenant Referencing

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