As a landlord, it’s your duty to carry out “right to rent” checks whether renting out privately or through a letting agent. It’s in your best interests to ensure that tenants present all of the relevant documents to yourself or to a letting agent so your property or properties can be rented out legally. Always ask for original documents and take a copy. Likewise letting agents require original documents and will need to take a copy of any documents while the tenants are present. For UK citizens in the UK indefinitely, or a citizen of a European Economic Area country, accepted documents include:-

  • British Passport
  • Biometric Immigration Document
  • UK Driving Licence
  • Benefits paperwork
  • Letter from a UK police force

There are also a number of other documents which landlords and letting agents can accept as part of the right to rent checks process.

Who you have to check

UK MapYou must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent your residential property. Before the start of the tenancy one of the first things to do is check that the tenant or tenants are aged 18 and over even if:-

  • There’s no tenancy agreement
  • They’re not named on the tenancy agreement
  • The tenancy agreement isn’t in writing

It’s also worth remembering that for landlords it’s against the law to only check people you think are British citizens. If for instance a potential tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time period, you need to carry out the same checks 28 days before the start of the tenancy. You don’t however need to check tenants in these types of accommodation:-

  • Social housing
  • A hostel or refuge
  • A care home, hospice or hospital
  • A mobile home
  • Student accommodation

Needless to say, you should check which adults are going to use your property as their main home. This will be considered to be their main home if they intend living there most of the time and the tenant or tenants keep most of their belongings in your property. Find out if they have children and if so are the children going to be living with them. If your property is the main home, the tenants should be registered to vote and registered with a doctor using the same address.

Couple of Sofa

Not the right documents – don’t rent out

If the tenant doesn’t have the right documents, don’t rent out. As a landlord, it would be foolhardy to rent out your property to someone who can’t produce the relevant documentation. If you feel that documents aren’t right, then look for another tenant. Always follow up on checks to make sure your tenant can legally rent a property in the UK either yourself or through your letting agent. When it comes to checks dig a little deeper, can the tenants or tenants afford the rent? Find out about:-

  • Their employment and income details
  • Credit, fraud and any CCJs
  • Previous rental history with other landlords

With the right checks in place from the start, there’s less chance of encountering tenancy problems in the future.