Landlord Law: Right To Rent Immigration Checks

Tenants right to rent

Another day, another incoming landlord legal requirement to ruin our lives and add to the forever growing list. Sigh.

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What is the “Immigration Act and Right to Rent”?

Income the Immigration Act 2014 and tenant’s “right to rent“.

Here’s a quick video explaining from the Home Office:

From the 1st December 2014, UK landlords could face civil penalties if they rent homes to illegal immigrants without carrying out the appropriate checks, “right to rent” checks.

Merry Christmas!

I quote, from the Gov issued Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks:

The Immigration Act 2016 (the 2016 Act) introduced a criminal offence of knowingly letting to someone disqualified from renting a property.

All landlords in England have a responsibility to prevent those without lawful immigration status from accessing the private rented sector. You do this by conducting right to rent checks on all prospective adult tenants before the start date of a tenancy agreement, to make sure the person is not disqualified from renting a property by reason of their immigration status.

In normal human talk, you’ll just need to check your tenant’s ID and proof of citizenship and ensure they have a right to rent in this country. Why didn’t they just say so, right?

The issue has caused controversy within the industry over whether it is the landlord’s responsibility to check the immigration status of potential tenants. I personally don’t think it’s a tall order to simply ask for proof of ID/Citizenship (that’s basically what the legislation asks of landlords), but it definitely shouldn’t be a landlord’s responsibility to help police immigration (which is what is effectively being asked of us).

Having said that, I don’t think it’s a hugely terrible legislation simply because it will help landlords perform better referencing (for those foolish landlords that don’t already ask for ID).

To be fair, personally, I’ve always checked my tenant’s ID and taken a copy as a safety measure anyways, to help combat fraudulent activity. I assume most with a little sense do the same. So this legislation really shouldn’t pile on any additional workload to sensible landlords.

Who is responsible for conducting the Right to rent check?

Initially, the legislation applied to landlords letting property in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton (why these areas? No idea), but since February 1, 2016, it applies to private landlords and letting agents in England, including sub-letting and lodger landlords.

What are the landlord’s penalty for not complying with the right to rent check?

The Immigration Act 2014 stated that if found to be in breach, landlords could have faced fines up to £3,000. Ouch!

But the penalty isn’t just limited to landlords; agents may also take on liability. Letting agents will be liable for the penalty in the event of a contravention if, acting in the course of business, they have accepted responsibility in writing for compliance with these provisions. My advice is, if you’re using a letting agent, make sure you get written confirmation that they are responsible for ensuring your tenant has a legal immigration status to rent in England!

It is also possible to commit this offence where a tenant’s “right to rent” has expired during the tenancy. So for example, landlords and agents should keep track of dates if their tenants have temporary permits.

In light of the heightened seriousness of the situation, the penalty has now been knocked up to a possible five years imprisonment. Holy smokes! I’m assuming the penalty is very reliant on the individual circumstances, and the imprisonment sentences is most likely reserved for repeat offenders. However, being thrown behind bars for 5 years seems a tad excessive, unless the landlord is caught cramming illegal immigrants into his carboot and crossing them through the border.

How do landlords comply with right to rent checks?

Landlords will need to check the identity and citizenship of ALL tenant’s over 18, for example a passport. These provisions also extend to adult occupiers that are NOT named in the tenancy agreement, so it’s important to check ALL tenants.

A full detailed list of what is accepted as proof is provided below.

Making copies of the documents

Copies of the items used as evidence will need to be taken to prove that the checks have been carried out.

When you copy the documents:

  • make a copy that cannot be changed, such as a photocopy or a good quality photograph
  • for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (such as nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, for example a work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
  • make a complete copy of all other documents
  • record the date you made the copy

Keep copies of the tenant’s documents for the time they’re your tenants and for one year after.

What documentation will (and will not) be accepted as proof of right to rent?

It can vary depending on the nationality of the prospective tenant, so use this free online service on the Gov website to find out:

  • which types of documents give someone the right to rent in the UK
  • how to check someone’s documents

Government right to rent document checker service

For further details

I have only covered what I feel to be the most essential/applicable information to the average landlord/tenant scenario. There’s a tonne more snooze-worthy and up-to-date details available from the Gov website:

It’s all worth rummaging through if you give a flying crap. Enjoy!

Bottom line, don’t give tenancy to any illegal immigrants, otherwise you could be royally screwed!

So, what are your thoughts on the legislation? Like, dislike, indifferent? Speak to me!

33 Join the Conversation...

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andrewa 5th November, 2014 @ 21:57

This is actually a very good thing for landlords, if a tenant has to prove who he or she really is then that can be recorded on a tenant database and if they are bad tenants this information can be recorded there warning other landlords to "beware this person, you do NOT want to rent anything to him". We have this in South Africa in the shape of an organization called "tenant profile network or TPN". Google it to see how it works and while I do not work for them I have used their services for the past few years.

Want to be a bad tenant? Hope you are or know a good forger!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 5th November, 2014 @ 22:18

Hi andrewa,

I hope most landlords ask for I.D. anyways, to prevent fraud and other issues. I always have.

My only gripe with the legislation is that landlords can face a fine for not carrying out the checks. I don't think landlords should take responsibility for immigration issues.

But generally, I don't think it's a totally bad idea, but only because it forces landlords to do something they should already be doing.

The practise of checking I.D is good, but the reason for doing so in this instance isn't justifiable in my opinion.

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Windy 6th November, 2014 @ 08:07

Sad to see a comment like ethnic rapists on a blog off this nature,

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 6th November, 2014 @ 08:27

Hi Windy,

Ahh apologies, I was actually implying how ridiculous that stereotype is (in light of bigots taking advantage of what the media has been reporting in Rotherham). My sarcasm may not have come across as clear. I've removed the line to avoid any further confusion!

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Harassed Pete 6th November, 2014 @ 09:24

I have always checked ID but they still don't pay their rent or their utilitie bills, one went off owing £2700! They seem to get away with it and he has now been housed by the council, everything laid on! Paying bills is sooooo yesterday, simply 'not done old boy'. We l/lords need more clout, form a union or something. PS anyone know any heavies?

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Harassed Pete 6th November, 2014 @ 09:30

PPS What ever happened to free speech? Shush!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 6th November, 2014 @ 09:48

Hi HP,

That's my point Pete! This has nothing to do with improving security for landlords/tenants.

Yeah, I had a housing benefit tenant that intentionally fell into arrears so she could get a council house. The system is ridiculous!

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Windy 6th November, 2014 @ 10:29

There is nothing wrong with free speech,but it needs to be factual and accurate,one could argue that all landlords are corrupt tight fisted and taking advantage of people,but this is neither factual or accurate,now back to the matter in hand I personally do not see the problem with asking for a tenants ID eg passport as this is something I have always done and noted on paperwork,to me it's just another part of the vetting system.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 6th November, 2014 @ 11:02

Hi Windy,

As explained, it was a facetious comment, it wasn't about stating a fact, it was about implying that the stereotype is ridiculous!

People do say all landlords are tight-fisted and corrupt, I don't respond by saying "you can't say that, needs to be a fact"

Anyways, I agree, asking for a tenant's ID is what ALL landlords should be doing anyways (which is what I already said), but this is about landlord's being responsible for immigration issues, and then potentially being fined for not complying. That's the part I don't think is entirely right.

Either way, I don't think it's a hugely terrible legislation simply because it will help landlords perform better referencing (for those that don't already ask for ID), even though the motive for being forced to do it is completely different.

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Harassed Pete 6th November, 2014 @ 11:43

My, how things haye changed! Let's get real, rogue l/lords are thing of the past now it's the tenants! There's a new bill going before parliament on the 28th about so called 'revenge evictions for repairs' which could weaken section 21. We need to take our angers out there! Surley, a l/lord would not evict a tenant in order to save doing repairs when they would have to be done anyway before a new tenant would take on the tenancy! Forgot to mention in earlier blog that the £2700 owed was for utilities alone!

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Harassed Pete 6th November, 2014 @ 12:02

Enough is enough! We need to ALL band together and make our views known as there has been so many successive incompetent meddling governments. Is it any wonder this country's a mess.

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Harassed Pete 7th November, 2014 @ 17:24

Feel so much better today, possession order came through but still gotta get 'em out tho.

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Rock-Well247 7th November, 2014 @ 21:08

What the !'.?.? Is this crap now surely it's well known that if you put a new system in place people will naturally find a way around it - hello Photoshop and a scanner and the poor l/Lord is non the wiser thinking I they have complied with the ledge.. Give me a break!!!!

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Jack Ass 7th November, 2014 @ 22:47

Seems to me, we're gonna have to do a "lotta checks"!!!

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Jack Ass 7th November, 2014 @ 23:19

Just had a brainwave! 1Rent out your home
2 Declare yourself homeless
3 Get a "rent free" house on the council
4 Bob's your uncle
5 Fanie's your ant'
6 Nice little earner without spending one penny!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 8th November, 2014 @ 10:19

Congrats :)

How long did it take and what process did you go through?

Good point! I wonder if landlords could face penalties if they unknowingly accept fake documents? Are we meant to take responsibility for that?

@Jack Ass
Many People actually do that, and those people are definitely a bunch of fannies ha!

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Jack Ass 8th November, 2014 @ 10:43

Yes, my previous comment is a Cynical dig but is it any wonder as we are hit from all sides. One example, our council charge FULL council tax on a vacant property plus 50 percent extra if empty more than 2 years whereas HB tenants pay nothing, ever! Next life I'm coming back as a woman - 8 kids - no stress - no worries - live the good life - sorted !!! Well, must go as I have fill out my tax return.

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Jack Ass 8th November, 2014 @ 10:52

Bahhh, another tenant not paying. Where's me gun, 10p a bullet can't be bad value and must save the last one for me self!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 8th November, 2014 @ 11:02

Ha so true! Being a single unemployed woman with multiple kids, from multiple fathers is the way forward!

Local authorities are just trying to squeeze pennies out of landlords wherever they can just to make up for their cock-ups!

Both the restructuring of the council tax exemption along with compulsory landlord licensing scheme are just cashcows moderated by local authorities- they choose how expensive they want to make it for landlords. So if they're short on cash, they'll just squeeze tighter by enforcing the fees.

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Jack Ass 8th November, 2014 @ 11:09

Me again. Have a confession to make. I'm no longer known as Harassed Pete, changed my name by 'deed poll' yesterday cos great way to dodge the 'bills'. Learnt that from HB night school last week! For Free!

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David 10th November, 2014 @ 18:43

@andrewa that would get you into VERY hot water, it is illegal here, there are a lot of things illegal here like killing your girlfriend and pretending she is a burglar.

@Landlord always makes rash comments but he only does it for theatre.

I think this legislation is a waste of time, all that will happen is that you will get people with ID sub-lettingas a lot of Eastern Europeans do, but also how does it help the situation. It will not make the illegal leave the UK as they do not have the money and are not aware that they will get a free ticket home if they present themselves to immigration.

I would rather see mandatory minimum fines of £20k per illegally employed person, time and time again employers are let off. Illegals like EU immigrants are mostly exploited, so if you make it financially unviable to risk employing the illegal you reduce the idea that this is a place to go.

I do not see that Landlords play any part in encouraging illegal immigration but of course it makes sense to check ID just so you know your tenant.

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andrewa 27th November, 2014 @ 15:20

Thanks for the comment but what would be illegal in the UK. Starting a database of bad tenants now they have to provide proof of ID? That would stop people with ID sub letting as you complain about as they could only do it once unless they forged new papers and as far as I know that is a crime in the UK as well as South Africa.

P.S. He is now in jail.....couldn't be proved he knew it was his girlfriend in there but he admitted not knowing who was there when he fired so culpable homicide due to negligence with a fire arm.

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Jonathan 19th December, 2014 @ 16:06

Ughh. Have you seen that list! I would not have a clue as to what most of those documents look like. They are going to be in a range of languages, with different age documents looking different and all bound up in severe penalties from making a mistake.

Unless UK Gov feels like paying me to take a document identification training course, and then paying me again for carrying out immigration checks for them, of course. At the moment as a landlord it feels like you pay tax and don't get much back...

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Jasper Alistair 4th March, 2015 @ 14:21

All the government is asking is that migrants present their passport and that landlords check the prospective tenants reason for being in the country. They could be students, be on a work visa, or have indefinite leave to remain.

Student visas and work visas have expiry dates and thus the land lord needs to be aware of this fact. It is all stated on one line of the visa stamp page of their passport! The landlord simply has to make a note to follow up on a specified date to see if the tenants still reside on his premises and if so find out if the migrants visa has been extended or if an application to extend is in process by contacting the home office to ensure this is being done.

Jasper Alistair

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John 14th January, 2016 @ 13:43

To fit in with eligibility legislation and the council's licenced properties rules...It could be suggested that landlords should permit only tenants that can show checkable (emphasis on checkable)

A) evidence of continuous employment for the last 2 years.

B) references from at least 2 previous landlords and that the tenancy periods being referred to are for at least 12 or even 24 months. (your choice)

C) character references

D) bank references to attest to income, ability and willingness to pay rent

Any criteria you wish to apply to making your decision on which applicants to either accept or reject are mainly but by no means wholly your own preference.

By following the rules on seeing proof of eligibility to be a resident and by sticking strictly to the above criteria you would I believe be far less likely to have people that are not long term UK citzens (or at least residents) applying to rent your property.

You would also in-line with what appears to be the council's thinking on social behaviour and you are not adding to the number of people in receipt of various benefits (which importantly includes housing and poll tax benefits which cost the council money) in the area.

The odd thing is that when you look at some of the criteria for being an 'ethical' or 'nice' landlord you should be willing to accept aplications from DHSS and peoples of all races religions and nationalities. Now where you could have at one time been accused of prejudice on the grounds of income and racism for refusing some applicants now anyone, nice or not, can justify not accepting many any applicants you wish for fear of breaking the rules on eligibility.

Interestingly; It appears the government seems to continue to not only fail to stem but to actually encourage the constant stream of immigrants for all reasons and from any source whilst appearing to fuel the discontent.

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Cee 16th January, 2016 @ 01:22

I've just advertised one of my properties to rent and within 12 hours had a rash of inquiries from people desperate to move in before the end of the month. It crossed my mind that maybe a number of these people realise that they may have great difficulty finding rental accommodation after this date...

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Tony 17th January, 2016 @ 08:07


I totally agree with the Right to Immigration Check Act, but I am facing problems because of this.

I am a Portuguese national and moved to the UK 4 months ago. I have a full time job in UK and now I intend to get my non-EU spouse and 2 kids on the EEA Family Permit. I currently live in a Single Room in UK and have a tenancy agreement on my name from the owner.

On the VAF5 form for the EEA Family Permit, I am confused on the following:
Q 8.9.1-Where do you and the EEA National plan to live in the UK?, which has a section of type of accommodation, no. of rooms, etc. As per law, I would need a two bedroom apartment/house based on my family members.

Based on this, I decided to hunt for a 2 bedroom house to meet this requirement to accommodate my family. I disclosed to the estate agents that I need a house for my wife and 2 kids who would be moving in with me soon. Liked 10 properties with 2 bedrooms. But all estate agents are refusing to sign a tenancy agreement quoting Right to Rent Act and my wife not having a visa to enter the UK. Later on, one agent agreed with a rent of £865. After that I paid £200(admin fees) and £400 (holding deposit) for the property. The next day the agent came back to me saying that the owner is not allowing this to proceed as my wife does not have legal status to enter the UK. So now the agent has agreed to transfer the £600 back.

The thought did cross my mind to not disclose any details about my wife and 2 kids to the landlord/agency. Then one day, just tell the landlord that my family has moved in. But then I am breaching the terms of the Tenancy Agreement, risk losing my deposit as well as face eviction and even the landlord taking me to court to recover his loss (agency fees, drafting fees, etc) incurred due to non-disclosure of family details.

Can someone guide me on this?


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Jackie 20th July, 2017 @ 23:01

Recently discovered mother has tenant that is not EU. Came to UK as regugee. Agent signed them up March 2014. I read this as now being applicable or irrelevant as prior to new legislation.
Feedback anyone please.

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Beryl 14th September, 2017 @ 17:09

How do we all band together? I for one am willing to take it on. Please contact me. I rent a house in Wales, struggle to meet all government demands including Licences, yes, 2 Licences for 1 house! I want us all to rise up against these ridiculous laws. Sensible ones are OK like Gas Checks etc. Please join me and make our voice heard.

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Beth 17th November, 2018 @ 21:27

I don't agree with this as you can be a British citizen but it dose not mean you will get a passport there are many reasons why you can not get a passport as the government web says sometimes the powers are not appropriate for the application but there is a need to restick if you don't have a passport or driving licence your screwd.there are still 10 Millon odd people in the UK with out a passport and a few more without a driving license. Yes it says you can use your birth certificate but I feel most landlords won't except that and people will be turned away and where dose that leave the person who gets turned away can we take it up to high power for refuseing. If we where not so soft and just stop letting people who are not meant to be here in there would be no need for this rule.they should bring the identification card back since landlords and most places to get a job want photo ID the reason the ID card did not work was people where being made to have them if they had gave people a choice people would not of kicked off about it as much.

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Dudley Forsyth 21st July, 2021 @ 21:31

Where's the usual tenant having a rant about evil, greedy landlords on this thread? Kind of boring without it...

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Dale 22nd July, 2021 @ 09:07

I do not know about raging tenants but I made the mistake of allowing three African students rent my flat.

I checked their immigration status and it "seemed" OK but I am a Landlord not a bloody Border Force agent, how the fuck would I know a forgery? The truth is that I am a 2nd generation immigrant myself so I was open to renting to them, my rent was way below what others were charging for this stunning building with terraces etc, but I figured it was enough for my investment.

They had a reference from some NGO charity who had got our lovely Government to pay for their education (out of our taxes) in one of our finest London Universities, studying law no less. They had guarantors, but them being in Africa it meant that the ability to enforce is severely limited.

They were supposed to be sharing two bedrooms, 2 in one room a third in the other, when I did an inspection I found they had moved one of beds to living room and so they each had a room, I did not think much of this at the time.

They said they were related but that turned out not to be true, this turned out to be important because it meant that my humble 2 bed flat was now an HMO.

Considering they came from Africa where we know facilities are not always great they complained a lot, mostly about the water heater, you see they could not get their head around a tank full of piping hot water was ready and waiting every morning, but they if one spend 20m in the shower the others would have to wait for the water to reheat. This was somehow MY FAULT, the flat is very modern it has climate control air conditioning and a central heating system, both part of the building so beyond my control.

Of course they complained that it was not warm enough so I bought them 2 oil based heaters, they then complained that they wanted 3, that was when I discovered they were using as three bedrooms.

What made things worse was the three of them fell out, two were at each other's throats while the 3rd sat on the fence and would not take sides.

Well you would be pleased to know that our taxes for their legal university education were put to good use; they alleged that I had not protected the deposit when I had protected it and served them with the Prescribed Information and all the other paperwork. I had screenshots but it turned out that the DPS did not process the protection due to an error on their website.

So I was facing 9x deposit protection claim, they employed a really nasty legal firm who would not negotiate and wanted the full 3x per tenancy. To add insult to injury they also went for an RRO seeking 12 months rent rebate because they said it was unlicensed HMO. Every time I engaged with these Solicitors they added £700 to their costs.

In the end it cost me £30,000 odd to settle.

As a result I put in an electric shower, I had the property done up to an extremely high standard, with every mod con and gadgets, I more than doubled the rent.

I do not give the agents specific instructions on immigration or race etc. that would be illegal, but the truth is I would never rent to an immigrant from any country again. I was soft and too accommodating on these bitches, but they have ruined it for others of their own kind. So they have effectively turned me into a racist, which is something that does not sit well with me given my heritage. My family is immensely grateful for the opportunities we have had, we had a lot of nasty racism when growing up, but this generation are so bloody ridiculous, I sometimes feel they have no idea.

So now I only rent to a single person, married couple or civil partnership. I required that the person renting has to earn at least £70,000 a year and provide payslips and P60. I am lethal on tenant referencing, I use a 3rd party but I also contact their employer and their previous Landlord. I look for people working in the City, they are demanding but I figure they are paying for a service and I am happy to provide.

So the Government can take their stupid right to rent rules, I do still check passports but I not only make sure that they are British citizens, I exclude any not born in UK.

I have paid for a bespoke tenancy agreement that says the property is only to be used as a two bedroom flat and no more than two people can stay in property, save guests who are limited to 14 days and my contract specifies that if they allow anyone to stay longer they are subletting and they indemnify me for any sanctions, repayments of rent and or any legal costs as well as agree to pay 50% more rent.

It was very painful to pay £30k but I have just factored that into my investment, with my rent doubled I do not care about voids taking a month or even two to complete tenant referencing, I do this at an early stage and shortlist 5 then 3 then I make a cold decision based on the paperwork not how personable they are. I also reject anyone who tries to put time pressure on me, I have found that these almost always have issues in the tenant referencing.

All I can say to other Landlords is learn from my mistakes.

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Andrewa 22nd July, 2021 @ 12:38

Your extreme reluctance to rent to African law students ever again doesn't make you a racist but a realist. (In the recent South African rioting and shop looting nobody bothered looting Exclusive Books for some reason). Whilst I am happy to rent to students and have some as tenants at the moment I unlike you will rent to black people and immigrants ( someone was less discriminatory than you and being more generously and kindly than you rented to your family on their arrival) I most definitely discriminate most thoroughly against anyone having anything to do with the law (police, legal secretaries, legal associates, paralegals court clerks, law students etc.)

















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