Did you know the Right to Rent Code of Practice has received an update?
Well it came into force on 22 January 2024.
Since February 2016, landlords and agents took on a new role as border guards!
What we needed to do start doing was to check anyone renting a property had the correct legal immigration status. This means that documents need to be checked manually or through the Landlord Checking Service via the Home Office to ensure that tenants have the Right to Rent.
This year’s revised code of practice has coincided with higher maximum fines for non-compliance. The penalties for non-compliance have increased from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier for an initial breach to up to £5,000 and £10,000 respectively. Any repeat breaches will attract fines as high as £10,000 and £20,000.
The new code explains what a landlord needs to do to avoid a fine and when you can and cannot pass on liability.
To precis, responsibility will always lie with the person who authorises the occupation of the home – so in a majority of cases it will be the landlord or the landlord’s agent.
However, if an occupier subsequently sub-lets to another person under another residential tenancy agreement, then they become responsible. So if you get asked to agree to a change in tenants do not agree without making sure that you have done the checks.
One anomaly that has changed is if you buy a property with tenants in situ. Again, you as the landlord become responsible for carrying out the checks.
What you need to do to make sure you stay the right side of the law
- A check on a person with an unlimited right to rent any time before the residential agreement is entered into.
- A check on a person with a time-limited right to rent no earlier than 28 calendar days (including Saturdays, Sundays, and bank holidays) before the start date of the tenancy agreement.
- Carry out a manual right to rent check on the day of the tenancy or carry out a Home Office online right to rent check for all non-British and non-Irish Citizens.
- Obtain original versions of one or more of the acceptable documents for adult occupiers.
- Check the documents in the presence of the holder
- Make clear copies of the documents and retain them with a record of the date on which the check is made.
- You must make sure the documents are valid in the presence of the holder. The documents must be checked to ensure that:
- They are genuine
- The person presenting them is the prospective or existing tenant
- The photograph and date of birth are consistent across documents and with the person’s appearance.
What documents are acceptable?
There are quite a few! You can find a full list of these in the government’s user guide.
In the main, the prospective tenant needs to produce a passport or passport card, a document issued by the Bailiwick of Jersey, or Guernsey or the Isle of Man, which has been verified as valid by the Home Office Landlord Checking Service. There are other documents that you can accept and if you are concerned it is most probably better to follow the link above.
Making a report to the Home Office
Before you issue a new tenancy agreement you must make sure that any visa is still in date. However if you find that your tenant no longer has the right to rent, or an existing occupier or occupiers are not co-operating. It is your responsibility to report this to the Home Office using the online form.
As your agent, we know exactly what we are looking for as this is has been normal practice since 2016, but I think this gives you an idea of the minefield that you might find yourself in if you go against the law!