With curbing illegal immigration at the top of the current government’s priority list, it is perhaps no surprise that things are changing rapidly concerning checks which employers and letting agencies are required to make. Right to Rent checks were introduced in 2014, as an attempt to make it more difficult for people who are in the UK illegally to find rented property. These checks involve basic identity checks to make sure landlords know who they are renting to, and passport checks to determine nationality, and to make sure that in the case of foreign nationals, that they have the right stamps in their passport to be in the UK. The Home Office has recently announced that the fines in the Right to Rent scheme are to be increased substantially, and this will affect everyone who is planning on taking on a tenancy for a domestic property.


Increases in Fines

For landlords or letting agencies, fines for a first breach of the Right to Rent rules will rise from £80 per lodger and £1,000 per tenant to a maximum of £5,000 per lodger and £10,000 per tenant. For landlords or letting agencies who make repeat breaches, fines will rise to a maximum of £10,000 per lodger and £20,000 per occupier, up from £500 and £3,000, respectively. These increased fines are set to take effect at the beginning of 2024.

Although aimed to make life difficult for illegal immigrants into the UK, these higher fines are going to mean that everyone is going to become aware of the stricter level of checking. Landlords must also comply with discrimination law, and that means not picking and choosing who to check based on their surname or any other protected characteristic. To keep things fair, most landlords will use the same system and process for everyone who is applying to rent a property.


Right to Rent Checks – How They Work

Anyone who is in the position of trying to find rented property will know that there are several checks to go through before you are accepted and get the keys. Landlords try to minimise their risk of getting a rogue tenant by asking for references from previous landlords, or by running credit checks to make sure that they can afford to pay the rent.

In addition, the Right to Rent check is about checking nationality and immigration status in the UK. The easiest way to do this is by asking the person wanting to rent a property to show a passport to the landlord and letting agency to prove their nationality and immigration status. If you do not have a passport, then other documents which prove your nationality can be provided instead. Landlords might want to keep a copy of your identity documents for their records, in order to prove to the Home Office that they are making checks if audited. Finally, if you hold a foreign passport, the landlord might ask for annual checks as a way of making sure that your Right to Rent status has not changed.