Does your tenant have a right to rent a property in the UK?

- Thu 24 Jun 2021

'Right to Rent' is the name given to a UK Government policy contained in the Immigration Act 2014 whereby landlords in England have to check the immigration status of tenants they rent properties to and to refuse accommodation to those tenants whom cannot prove they are permitted to live in a rented home. The legislation applies to landlords whom created tenancy agreements commencing on or after the 1st Feb 2016.

Who has a satisfactory 'Right to Rent'?

Before renting a property and landlord is required to establish the immigration status of all adult tenants to be resident at the subject property. Landlords are not required to check the status of individuals under the age of 18 years.

Tenants have a 'Right to Rent' if any of the following apply:

  • The tenant is a British or EEA citizen
  • The tenant has an indefinite leave to remain or settled status
  • The tenant has refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • The tenant has permission to be in the UK (for example on a work or student visa)
  • The Home Office has granted the tenant a time limited right to rent

If any permission has a time limit for the tenant to reside in the UK then a landlord must conduct further checks after 12 months or when the leave ends if this is sooner.

What documents are acceptable for 'Right to Rent' checks?

Acceptable documents that a tenant can show their landlord include for example:

  • A UK passport
  • An EU/EEA passport or identity card, permanent residence card
  • A travel document showing indefinite leave to remain
  • A visa if applicable
  • A Home Office immigration status document or a certificate of registration/naturalisation as a British citizen.

What if a tenant fails the 'Right to Rent' check?

A landlord cannot let a property legally to anyone who fails a 'Right to Rent' check. If a landlord discovers that tenants are not legally permitted to rent they will be sent a disqualification notice from the Home Office and must take steps to end the tenancy.

What happens if a landlord does not conduct a 'Right to Rent'?

Failure to comply originally lead to a fine. Thus if a tenancy is offered without a 'Right to Rent' check a civil penalty of up to £3,000 can be imposed if a landlord is found to be renting out a property to someone who is in the UK illegally. However as of 1 December 2016 the Government introduced additional penalties and offences relating to 'Right to Rent'. As a result landlords now face potential imprisonment for failure to check the occupier's 'Right to Rent' status. It is therefore essential that these checks are conducted correctly from the outset.


It's against the law to discriminate against potential tenants on the grounds of race, ethnicity or nationality. For example, landlords can't refuse to consider a tenant just because they don't have a British passport.