new right to rent code of practice and fines

New Right to Rent Code of Practice & Penalty Hikes – Are You Prepared?

Stay compliant and avoid hefty penalties by discovering the latest information on Right to Rent checks.

All private landlords in England are legally required to conduct Right to Rent checks, ensuring that their tenants have the right to reside in the UK.

This requirement was introduced as part of the Immigration Act 2014 and applies to tenancy agreements starting on or after 1 February 2016, throughout England.

As of 13 February 2024, a new code of practice and increased penalties have come into effect. Keep reading to ensure you are up to date on these changes and remain compliant.

  1. Key updates in the new Right to Rent code of practice
  2. Who is responsible for Right to Rent checks?
  3. How to carry out a Right to Rent check
  4. Are there any exceptions?

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Key updates in the new Right to Rent code of practice

Proving Right to Rent with outstanding applications

Some individuals with an outstanding, in-time application for permission to stay in the UK, an appeal, or administrative review (3C leave) can now prove their Right to Rent using the Home Office online checking service.

Simplified administration of civil penalties

Changes have been made to an overview of how the civil penalty is administered to simplify and streamline the guidance.

Increased penalties for non-compliance

Changes have been made to how liability is determined and penalties are calculated, with the maximum civil penalty for non-compliance increased.

For landlords, fines for initial breaches will rise from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per occupier to as much as £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per occupier.

Repeat breaches could incur even heftier fines of up to £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier, compared to the previous £500 and £3,000, respectively.

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Who is responsible for Right to Rent checks?

It’s the landlord’s responsibility to verify the immigration status of any potential tenants in the private rented sector. However, these checks should also be carried out by:

  • An occupier who permits a lodger to live in the property
  • A tenant who sublets part or all of the property (this responsibility can be passed over to the landlord, provided both parties have mutually agreed in writing)
  • A letting agent, appointed in writing by the landlord, who assumes responsibility for adhering to the Right to Rent scheme

How to carry out a Right to Rent check

To ensure that you carry out a Right to Rent check correctly, you need to be aware that different documents are required depending on the tenant’s nationality. There are also different ways to check these documents. 

Remember, landlords should conduct Right to Rent checks on all prospective tenants, regardless of their nationality.

Here is what you need to check in each case:

  • UK and Irish citizens – manual inspection of passport, driving licence or UK birth certificate
  • EU, EEA, Swiss citizens – use the Home Office online service. You’ll need to ask for their date of birth and a ‘share code’
  • Citizens from outside the EU and EEA – again, use the Home Office online service to check their immigration status

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Are there any exceptions?

All tenants applying for a tenancy in the private rented sector must undergo Right to Rent checks. This includes any additional adults residing in the property, even if they are not listed on the tenancy agreement.

However, children under 18 and guests who do not contribute rent are exempt from these checks.

There are also other cases where tenants are exempt from Right to Rent checks. Landlords are not legally obligated to check tenants residing in the following types of accommodation:

  • Social housing
  • Care homes, hospices, or hospitals
  • Hostels or refuges
  • Mobile homes
  • Student accommodation

To learn more about Right to Rent checks and what to do if your tenant’s visa expires during a tenancy, visit our help centre for additional information.

This article is not intended to form legal or investment advice. Investments in property are not guaranteed and can decrease in value as well as increase.