If you are a landlord, home owner or letting agent, you must conduct right to rent check when letting privately rented accommodation in England to avoid a civil penalty. The Right to Rent Scheme only applies to residential tenancy agreements where the property is for use as an only or main home. The Scheme was first introduced in West Midlands on 1 December 2014 and in the rest of the England on 1 February 2016.

The right to rent check must be conducted on existing or prospective tenants before entering a tenancy agreement to ensure they can legally rent your property.  The right to rent check should be carried out on all tenants over the age of 18 who will live in the property regardless of whether they are named in the tenancy agreement.

The steps a landlord can take to avoid civil penalty, also known as establishing ‘statutory excuse’ against civil penalty, are to show that you have correctly:

  • conducted initial right to rent checks before authorising an adult to occupy rented accommodation
  • conducted follow up checks at the appropriate time if a tenant has a time limited right to rent, and
  • made a report to the Home Office if follow up checks indicate that a tenant no longer has the right to rent.

The Home Office are making some changes to right to rent checks that will come into effect from 6 April 2022. These are:

  • From 6 April 2022, the right to rent online checking service must be used for biometric residence card and permit (BRC/P) holders, as they will no longer be able to use their BRC/P for a manual right to rent check, even if it shows a later expiry date. If you use the online checking service, information about an individual’s right to rent is provided in real time directly from Home Office systems.
  • Also from 6 April 2022, landlords will be able to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital checks on behalf of British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport (or Irish passport card).

If you rent your property to someone who does not have the right to rent or if you have not carried out a correct right to rent check, you could face a civil penalty of upto £3000 per person and in the most serious cases, a criminal conviction carrying a prison sentence.