Know your Tenant or You Could Face Penalties!
On the 20th October 2015, the government announced that from the 1st February 2016 all private Landlords in England will be required to make ‘right to rent’ checks. This means checking that your prospective tenants have the right to be in the UK before you rent out your property.
Landlords should check that all adults (anyone aged 18 and above) living in the property as their only or main home, have the right to be in the UK. This applies even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement and regardless of whether the tenancy agreement is written, oral or implied.
What should you, as the Landlord, do?
- Check adult tenant(s) if they live in the property as their only or main home;
- Ask tenant(s) for the original documents that show they have the right to be in the UK;
- Check the documents are valid with the tenant present; and
- Record the date that the check is made and arrange to make and keep copies of the documents for the duration of the tenancy and for twelve months after the tenancy ends.
Further checks following the same procedure should be conducted where the original documents indicate that the tenant’s right to be in the UK will expire during the tenancy.
Landlords do not have to check the right to rent of existing tenants where the start of a tenancy pre-dates the scheme being introduced.
The scheme also does not apply to children. However, Landlords should satisfy themselves that minors are under the age of 18 at the time the tenancy begins and keep evidence of this. Landlords do not need to conduct additional follow-up checks when the child turns 18. Where further checks are required, the now adult should be checked at the point these further checks fall due.
What happens if you, as the Landlord, do not check your tenants?
Under these new rules, Landlords who fail to check a prospective tenant’s ‘right to rent’ will face civil penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.
The Home Office have produced a handy guidance note, available here. This note gives further guidance to Landlords on the documents that are acceptable for right to rent checks and further assistance with the checks in general.
For more information and advice, please contact a member of our Commercial Property Team or Residential Property Team who will be delighted to assist you further.
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