Thursday, 28 June 2018

Is ‘Right to Rent’ right?

Since February 2016 all private landlords in England have had to check their prospective tenants right to live in the UK. The pilot scheme prior to this was responsible for finding 109 individuals living in the UK illegally. A landlord’s failure to undertake these checks is now a criminal offence that can lead to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine (don’t worry landlords of mine - I do the checks for you).
The severity of the punishment for failing in these duties and the complexities around the issue has given rise to claims that the ‘Right to Rent’ checks have led to discrimination against those without a UK passport (which is the easiest way to prove a tenant's 'Right to Rent').

I made it known during a consultation before the legislation was formally announced that this was likely to happen. If there were two suitable tenants vying for the same property and one had a UK passport and the other didn't (meaning you have to go all Sherlock Holmes regarding their immigration status and potentially re-check this upon the expiry of any visa) there's a good chance as to which tenant the landlord may choose to take on.

Simply put, you need to see original identification documents from all occupants over the age of 18. There’s a list of the acceptable documentation on the government’s website, and yes seeing a UK passport is probably the easiest to verify (as you know what one is supposed to look and feel like). A bit of ‘googling’ may be needed to determine whether alternative documents are authentic. Retain a copy of the document and voila - the Right to Rent checks are done.

Having rented to a variety of nationalities, I can understand landlords’ frustrations in having to verify the authenticity of their varying immigration documents. But this additional administration shouldn't stop a landlord from renting to the best tenant they (legally) can.

Those who have an expiry date on their right to stay in the country must be checked again and proof taken that this has been extended when the time comes. It’s a landlord’s responsibility to report occupants without the Right to Rent to the government via an online form.

Time will tell as to what impact Brexit will have on this process (which might have the potential to cause discrimination towards Europeans who currently have the same ‘Right to Rent’ as Brits) but seeing as Swiss nationals have an unlimited Right to Rent too I suspect this will be the case with EU/EAA citizens post-Brexit.

And If you're that worried about it all (more than 400 landlords have been fined an average of £654 by the Home Office for failing to do the checks!) you could always hire a decent letting agent to do it for you....

For more tips about buying, selling, letting and renting in Chichester, please visit

(This article was featured in the Chichester Observer's property section on June 28, 2018)

Clive Janes, CRJ Lettings

If you are looking for an agent that is well established, professional and communicative in Chichester, then contact us to find out how we can get the best out of your investment property.

E-mail me on or call 01243 624 599.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view my previous buy-to-let deals and Chichester Property News articles:

c/o CRJ Lettings, 30B Southgate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1DP

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