What is the Right to Rent?
If you live in an area governed by rent control, you can challenge the amount of rent charged. Landlords must carry out right-to-rent checks before agreeing on a tenancy in England.
This means they must check whether a person is legally in the UK. However, the checks must keep equality laws that protect certain groups from discrimination.
What is the Right to Rent?
The “Right to Rent” is a legal requirement in the United Kingdom that places specific responsibilities on landlords or property owners to verify the immigration status of their prospective tenants before renting out residential property. The Right to Rent checks were introduced to prevent individuals without the legal right to reside in the UK from accessing private rented accommodation.
|Accepted RIght to Rent Documents
|Options for British citizens are:
Options for all other nationalities are:
|combination of valid UK driving licence & original UK birth certificate
valid EEA*/Swiss national ID card (after 30th June 2021 a visa or proof of settlement status granted may be required)
combination of passport and valid visa or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
Helpful Information About the Right to Rent Scheme
Here are the key points regarding the Right to Rent scheme:
- Landlords and letting agents in England are legally obligated to conduct Right to Rent checks for all adult tenants aged 18 and over before starting a tenancy. The rules may differ in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, where separate regulations apply.
- Landlords and agents must verify that prospective tenants have the legal right to live in the UK. This includes British citizens, European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) nationals, and individuals with appropriate visas or immigration status.
- To conduct Right to Rent checks, landlords or agents typically request original documents from tenants to prove their immigration status. These documents can include passports, biometric residence permits, national identity cards, or other official immigration documents.
- Landlords and agents are expected to check the authenticity of the documents tenants provide to ensure they are genuine. They must also retain copies of the documents for their records.
- The government provides a list of acceptable documents that can be used for Right to Rent checks. Landlords and agents should consult the official guidance to use the correct documents.
- Right to Rent checks should be conducted within 28 days before the start of a tenancy agreement. This allows landlords to assess the tenant’s eligibility well in advance.
- Failing to conduct the necessary Right to Rent checks or renting to someone who doesn’t have the legal right to reside in the UK can result in significant penalties for landlords, including fines and, in some cases, imprisonment.
- The UK’s exit from the European Union has changed Right to Rent checks for EU and EEA nationals. Landlords and agents should stay informed about any updates to the rules.
Right to Rent Legal Requirements
A lease is one of the most important contracts between a tenant and a landlord. It defines how renters will enjoy their homes and how owners will maintain their property, and it can even affect a neighbourhood’s stability. Landlords must follow specific legal requirements to prevent future entanglements with tenants, which may include eviction proceedings.
Tenants have a right to live in livable, safe, and sanitary conditions. This includes a space with working plumbing, adequate heat, electricity, protection from the elements, and security features like peepholes and locks. When a landlord fails to meet these standards, the tenant may withhold rent or repair the conditions (Real Property Law SS 235-a).
Suppose you are a rent-stabilised tenant paying less than the legally regulated rent. In that case, your landlord can only raise your preferential rent based on a specific law and regulation (9 NYCRR SS 2520.6(o)). You have the right to form, join and participate in a tenant organisation to protect your rights as a tenant. In addition, landlords must allow tenant organisations to use community or social rooms free of charge for meetings.
Checking Your Right to Rent
Landlords and letting agents must check that you have the right to live in England before you start a tenancy. This is called a right-to-rent check. They must see your passport or ID and a copy of your visa or leave to remain in the UK. They can’t check your documents over the phone or online.
If you have a right to rent a check, your landlord can’t refuse to rent to you because of your nationality, race, religion or sex. This would be discrimination and is against the law.
If you are worried about your landlord or letting agent refusing to rent to you because of your nationality, religion, or sex, get immigration advice. You can also contact the Commonwealth Taskforce for help. They will investigate complaints about discrimination by private landlords. They may find the landlord or letting agency if you can prove discrimination.
Right to Rent Exempt Tenants
A landlord can rent a home to anyone legally allowed to do so as long as the owner abides by local laws regarding rental rates. However, the owner cannot discriminate based on race, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability or marital status. Also, the landlord can’t deny a tenant a security deposit or withhold it for improper repairs (unless they are necessary). Furthermore, the owner may not restrict electronic billing and payments. Tenants can also assign their leases or sublet if they notify the landlord of the assignment. A tenant can’t revoke an assignment without cause or terminate the lease in violation of its terms. However, tenants can’t do this to family members or people with whom they share emotional and financial commitments.
However, in the United Kingdom, some individuals and groups of tenants are exempt from the Right to Rent checks. This means landlords are not required to carry out immigration status checks for these tenants. The exemptions aim to ensure that vulnerable individuals or groups have access to rental accommodation without facing additional barriers.
- Social Housing Tenants: Tenants in social housing provided by local authorities or housing associations are generally exempt from Right to Rent checks. This includes individuals living in council houses and registered social housing.
- Hostel Accommodation: Tenants staying in hostels or refuges managed by specified providers are exempt from Right to Rent checks. This exemption is intended to assist individuals experiencing homelessness or facing difficult circumstances.
- Local Authority Care Leavers: Care leavers aged 18 to 25 who have been in the care of a local authority for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 are exempt from Right to Rent checks for the first two years after leaving care.
- Tenants in Immigrants’ Hostels: Residents of certain types of accommodation provided for asylum seekers or refugees, such as immigrants’ hostels, are exempt from Right to Rent checks.
- Accommodation Provided by Specific Organisations: Tenants in accommodation provided by specific organisations that support vulnerable individuals, such as charities and specified government bodies, may be exempt from Right to Rent checks.
- Students: Full-time students with limited leave to remain in the UK are exempt from Right to Rent checks for their studies.
- School Leavers: Individuals aged 16 or 17 who have recently left school and are supported by a specified local authority service may be exempt for a limited period.
- Hospital Patients: Hospital patients are exempt from the Right to Rent checks for their stay.
Right to Rent Discrimination
It is unlawful for a landlord to discriminate against renters for protected classes (race, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, marital status and immigration status). State and local laws may also protect those with AIDS or HIV, a mental or emotional handicap, or a physical disability. Landlords are also prohibited from refusing to rent or imposing different tenancy terms on individuals based on their lawful source of income (including government assistance such as Section 8 vouchers) or criminal record, except for drug dealing and manufacturing convictions.
The best way to avoid discrimination is to make sure all questions asked of tenants are relevant to being a good tenant, not merely screening for the presence of a protected class. Tenants should be allowed to bring in a physician, therapist or counsellor who can write a letter attesting that they are disabled and that the requested changes will help them live independently. This is often the only way that a landlord can legally address a disability without running into legal trouble.
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