If you're looking to rent a property in the UK, you must prove your right to rent before you can move in. This is done through a process called a right-to-rent check. This involves presenting your identity documents in person to the landlord or rental agent. Depending on your nationality, you may need to present a passport or an immigration document.
If you don't have any documents because you're waiting for an immigration decision from the Home Office, the landlord can request a “right to rent” check from the Home Office. British citizens must present an identity document, such as a driver's license and an original UK birth certificate. Other documents, such as recent utility bills and bank statements in your name, can support your request. If the tenant has an unlimited right to rent, the verification can be carried out at any time before the start of the contract.
For a limited-time rental right, the verification must be performed no more than 28 days before the start of the contract. The Home Office should contact the landlord within two business days; however, you won't be able to move until the verification is complete. If any adult occupant fails to present their original documents attesting to a valid rental right, all occupants may be denied access to the rental property until this requirement is met. The law requires the landlord to carry out a follow-up check if you were entitled to stay in the UK for a limited time when the initial verification took place. Once the tenant has provided their documents, they should check them to see if they are entitled to rent. The landlord can consult the Ministry of the Interior system in real time to make their decision on the right to rent without need of any other documentation.
If it's not practical to check the documents before signing the lease (for example, if the prospective tenant lives abroad and wants to arrange their accommodation in the UK before they arrive), you can initially accept the lease, but you shouldn't confirm it until you've checked their documents. Yes, as long as you have other identity documents confirming your right to rent. If your passport is in the hands of the Home Office due to an ongoing immigration application or appeal, the prospective landlord can ask the Landlord Verification Service of the Home Office to verify their right to rent. Currently, the first offence is 80 pounds sterling for landlords who illegally rent to tenants in a private home or 1000 pounds for tenants of rental properties. If you check this document in the right way, as described here and in the Landlord's Guide to Right To Rent Checks, you'll establish an ongoing legal excuse against a civil penalty and you won't need to write any other checks on the right to rent, as long as the lease agreement is not modified. Once the person has collected their BRP (Biometric Residence Permit), they may want to perform a new check that will provide a legal excuse for the duration of their license. You must keep a copy of the response to the check for the duration of the lease and for one year after your completion. As a landlord, it's important that you verify that any tenant or tenant over 18 can legally rent your property.
The Home Office introduced rent-to-rent checks with the aim of making it harder for people to live and work illegally in England. Landlords who rent to someone they knew or had “reasonable reason” had no right to rent in the UK are breaking the law. For more information on how to establish a legal excuse against liability for a civil penalty when verifying physical documents, see The Landlord's Guide To Right To Rent Checks.