Right to Rent Checks
What are Right to Rent Checks?
From February 1st 2016 in England landlords will be are required to check their tenants' immigration status before granting a tenancy agreement, to make sure that the tenant has a ‘right to rent’.
This will apply to all students and their adult family members who are renting in the private sector, including lodgers and subtenants. It does not apply to university owned & nominated accommodation, however some private halls of residence may ask to see proof of your right to rent.
Who do these checks affect?
Landlords are required to check the immigration status of all tenants, including UK nationals. It is illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of age, disability, race or nationality, religion, sexuality or gender. If you think a landlord is refusing to let to you based on one of these protected characteristics, please contact the Student Housing Adviser.
How much does the check cost?
Checking documents such as right to rent evidence may be included in the letting agents’ administrative fees. There is currently no law preventing landlords and letting agents charging a fee to carry out the check, however this charge has to be advertised upfront. Landlords and agents will not be able to charge tenants for this or other fees from the 1 June 2019.
How do I prove my ‘Right to Rent’?
If you are subject to a right to rent check then your landlord or letting agent will need to see original evidence of your right to be in the UK within 28 days of your tenancy start date. If you cannot provide the required evidence of your immigration permission the landlord may not allow you to move in. The landlord will need to check your original document(s) in person, make a copy and return the original to you.
Do not send your documents in the post or let anyone keep your document. It may be helpful to have a black and white copy of any documentation ready to give the landlord, however they will still need to see the original document in person to carry out the check.
Which documents are required?
Usually, a landlord or agent will ask to see the following documents:
EEA / Swiss nationals Passport or national identity card Family members of EEA / Swiss nationals EEA family permit or residence card People with immigration permission to be in the UK Current passport containing a valid visa, vignette, or a valid Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If these documents are with the Home Office as part of an ongoing immigration application (or you have a pending appeal or administrative review) then you should give your landlord your Home Office reference number so that they can verify this with the Home Office.
If you are having any difficulties obtaining any of these documents, or they have been lost or stolen, seek advice from the Student Housing Adviser. A full list of acceptable documentation can be found on the Home Office website.
Do I need to be in the UK to complete the right to rent check?
Yes, right to rent checks must be done in person by the landlord no more than 28 days before the start of the tenancy agreement. If you are looking for private rented accommodation you will need to come to London 4-8 weeks before the start of the course to find a suitable property – do not sign a contract, transfer any money or provide any documentation to a private landlord or agent without first seeing the property in person. More advice on finding private rented accommodation can be found on our accommodation webpages.
My permission to be in the UK does not currently last the full length of the contract. Do I have the ‘Right to Rent’?
If you have time limited immigration permission to be in the UK then your landlord must check your immigration permission again after 12 months, or before your immigration permission expires, whichever is later. You do not need to show that you have leave to remain for the full duration of the tenancy, just that you have a valid immigration status when the right to rent check is carried out. Some landlords seem to be confused about this and are refusing tenancies on this basis – if you experience any difficulties please contact the Student Housing Adviser.
I want to sublet my room. Do I need to carry out a Right to Rent check?
If you decide to sublet your room, for example during vacation periods then you will take on landlord responsibilities and will be required to carry out right to rent checks. Always ask for permission from your landlord before subletting and agree between you who will carry out the checks.
My documents are with the home office. How can I prove my Right to Rent?
If you have applied to extend your visa whilst in the UK and your ID documents are with the Home Office, the landlord can check your Right to Rent with the Home Office using this online form. If your current visa has expired but you have made an in-time application to the Home Office, you will have Section 3C leave, which means you are in the UK legally. It may be a good idea for you to keep copies of visas, passports and confirmation of any applications made to the Home Office.
Where can I go if I have any problems?
Contact the SOAS Housing Adviser on email@example.com or telephone 020 7074 5011 for further advice.
SOAS students also have access to free legal advice via the University of London Housing Services