From 1 February 2016 it will be necessary to check the immigration status of applicants in England before agreeing a new tenancy. The devolved Governments are currently working with Westminster to agree if this will be rolled out in Scotland and Wales.

Trialled in the West Midlands since 1 December 2014, the right-to-rent scheme requires tenants to demonstrate that they have the right to live in the UK and for landlords, or their nominated agent, maintain records verifying the outcome of the checks.

In short this means that Landlords will need to carry out the checks:

  • Check adult tenant(s) will live in the property as their only or main home
  • Ask tenant(s) for the original document(s) that show they have the right to be in the UK
  • Check the documents are valid with the tenant present
  • Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check

Failure to carry out the checks could result in a fine of up to £3,000 or in aggravated and repeated cases a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

Although the scheme has proven unpopular, the Government’s evaluation of the pilot area has concluded that most agents have been able to incorporate the checks and record keeping into their existing vetting procedures.