We have set out below everything you need to know about Right to Rent — what it is, how checks are done and what that actually means for you as a tenant looking to rent a property in England.
What is Right to Rent?
Right to Rent requires lettings agents in England to check that all tenants who occupy their properties have legal status to live in the UK. This means that before you can rent a home in England, a letting agent must undertake ID checks prior to letting out the property.
The Home Office introduced Right to Rent checks with the aim of making it harder for people to live and work in England illegally. Tenancies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not subject to Right to Rent checks.
Right to Rent checks
When carrying out a Right to Rent check, your letting agent must carry out a check on all prospective tenants over the age of 18, even if they are not named on the tenancy by either:
- Checking an original form of ID (from a list of acceptable identification documents) in the presence of the prospective tenant
- or using an approved identity service provider (IDSP) to check your ID
- or viewing a tenant’s Right to Rent online via the Home Office ‘share code’ system
If an applicant relies on ID from List A the check can be carried out at any point in advance of the start of the tenancy. If an applicant relies on ID from List B, the check needs to be carried out within the 28 days prior to the start of the tenancy.
Agents are also legally required to make follow-up checks where identification is time-limited (e.g. student visa).
Take a look at the Government’s guidance A short guide on right to rent for more information.
Identity Service Providers (IDSPs)
Certified Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) are third-party providers who have met a Government standard to carry out digital Right to Rent checks on British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport (including Irish passport cards).
IDSPs offer convenient checks however not all agents will be able to offer Right to Rent checks through an IDSP (even for this restricted group) and whether this is a suitable option for your tenancy will depend on a number of different factors. You can see a list of IDSPs on GOV.UK.
Home Office Share Code system
As an overseas national with a Home Office immigration status, you can simply provide a share code along with your date of birth to any letting agent. They will be able to check the Home Office’s real-time system to generate your Right to Rent decision without needing any other documentation.
Between March 2020 and September 2022, agents and landlords were permitted to make ‘adjusted checks’ using video calls due to Covid. Checks will not be compliant if conducted using video calls outside this period.
Right to Rent for overseas tenants
If you are trying to arrange a tenancy from abroad, landlords can agree to a tenancy in principle subject to an ID check on arrival. If you are unable to provide the accepted documents confirming your identity and right to live in the UK then you will not be able to rent property in England.
Application With The Home Office
If the Home Office is holding your documents because of an ongoing application or outstanding case/appeal, your letting agent can request that they carry out the Right to Rent check. This can be done via an online form or by calling the Landlords Helpline on 0300 069 9799, they will need your Home Office reference number to do this.
Time-Limited Stay In The UK
Landlords and letting agents are legally obliged to carry out the Right to Rent check again if the ID that you provide is from ‘List B’ as these documents only qualify you to establish a time-limited statutory excuse. If the agent is not able to complete this check they will need to make a report on you to the Home Office, otherwise, they can incur significant fines. If the follow-up check shows that you no longer have the right to live in the UK, they must report it to the Home Office.
If you don’t have any restrictions on your right to stay in the UK (such as if you are a British or Irish citizen or an EU national who has documents to prove your ‘Settled Status’) then your landlord or letting agent won’t need to carry out any further checks.
Disqualified tenancy due to immigration status
It is possible that the Home Office may send your landlord a notice telling them that someone living at their property is disqualified from renting as a result of their immigration status.
Under these circumstances, landlords must take reasonable steps to end the tenancy or serve a notice asking the tenant to leave. The minimum required notice period for occupiers to vacate a property is 28 days.
If there are both legal and disqualified tenants occupying the property, landlords are expected to give any disqualified tenants a notice requiring them to leave within 28 days. They can then allow the remaining legal tenants to continue their tenancy by reassigning it to one or more remaining adult occupiers who have a Right to Rent.