Can Landlords Conduct Right to Rent Checks on Existing Tenants?

Landlords must ensure that they carry out right to rent checks in a fair, justifiable and consistent manner. This applies to all potential tenants, regardless of their background. It is recommended that people with limited English proficiency be accompanied and advised by a third party, such as a friend or family member, a councilor or a charity worker. The status of people with an unlimited right to rent can be checked at any time before the start of a lease.

Evidence of the verification must be kept for the duration of the lease and for at least one year afterwards. No other checks are necessary. If the tenant has a visa or residence permit for more than one year, the landlord must do a follow-up check when it expires. Certain types of tenancy are exempt from the regime.

If an agent discovers that the prospective tenant does not have the right to rent, the landlord must be informed. If landlords or their agents verify the right to rent in accordance with government guidelines and the code of practice, they will have a legal excuse to exempt them from liability if it is discovered that they have rented to someone who does not qualify due to their immigration status. People staying in shelters or hostels are exempt from the right to rent regime. Confirmation of the continuity of the right to rent exempts landlords from any additional liability until the next check is due.

During this period, controls will continue to be necessary and landlords or their agents must continue to check the prescribed documents set out in the Landlord's Guide on the Right to Rent or Use the Home Office's Landlord Verification Service. If a tenant's visa or residence permit expires within one year, the landlord must perform a follow-up check after one year if they are still living there. If a landlord buys a property with active tenants, they must confirm with the transferring landlord that the right to rent checks have been carried out correctly and keep evidence, such as copies of proven documents. Landlords or agents still need to do a full verification of the right to rent before starting their residential tenancy.

In addition, if you have an indefinite residence permit with an expired passport, you can also use it to prove your right to rent. If you check this document correctly, as indicated here and in the Landlord's Guide to Right to Rent Checks, you'll have a permanent legal excuse not to receive any civil penalty and you won't have to check your right to rent again, as long as the lease agreement is not modified. The rules on the right to rent are complicated and subject to frequent change, and potential penalties for not enforcing them are high.

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