What is the ‘right to rent’?

We explain what it means, and what you’ll need to do

Anyone wanting to rent a property in the UK will need to prove that they’re legally allowed to reside in the country, before any tenancy agreement gets underway. This is called the ‘Right to Rent’, and it was first introduced under the Immigration Act 2014. 



What does it mean?

It means that all letting agents and landlords need to conduct what is called a ‘Right to Rent check’ on all prospective tenants to check their eligibility to reside in the UK. The person wishing to rent must show the agent or landlord some identity documents when asked and allow them to take a copy so that the check can be thoroughly recorded.

Acceptable identity documents

There are a few documents which are generally acceptable as a form of identity and to demonstrate their eligibility to live in the UK, and the combination depends on the nationality of the prospective tenant: 

  • A valid Passport 
  • A combination of a valid UK and original UK birth certificate (for British citizens only) 
  • A valid EEA*/Swiss national ID card (for European citizens) 
  • A valid visa or Biometric Residence Permit - also known as a BRP (for all other nationalities)

If a tenant’s right to rent is time-limited, for example because of a visa or a BRP with an expiry date, then the visa must be valid for the proposed start date of the tenancy, and the Rent to Rent check must be completed within 28 days of the start date of the tenancy.

Checks should be carried out periodically, and if any future checks reveal that a tenant renting a property no longer has a valid ‘Right to Rent', then the letting agent or landlord must contact the Home Office to report this.

If any property is subsequently found to have been let to a non-eligible tenant, it may result in the agent or landlord receiving a fine of up to £3,000 - along with the risk of imprisonment.

It means that illegal immigrants will be heavily restricted when they try to access rented accommodation in the UK, as they must first prove that they are legally allowed to live in the country before they are granted a tenancy anywhere.


What happens if you don’t have your paperwork?

If any potential tenant fails to present themselves to show the necessary identity documents, and thereby proving their Right to Rent, then they may be denied access to the rental property until the check is successfully completed.