New Lease, New Compliance Burden

After 1 February 2016, landlords entering into residential leases, having new lodgers or allowing anyone to occupy a property they own for residential purposes are required to undertake checks to ensure the tenant and any other adults who will be living there have the right to reside in the UK.

The rules have applied in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton since 1 December 2014.

British citizens, citizens of the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals have an automatic right to rent, as do those granted indefinite right to remain in the UK.

The four steps necessary to establish the right to rent and prove compliance are:

  • Identifying the adults who will live in the property as their only or main home;
  • Obtaining original versions of one or more of the 'acceptable documents' for adult occupiers;
  • Checking the documents in the presence of the holder of the documents; and
  • Making copies of the documents and retaining them with a record of the date on which the check was made. This copy must be retained for at least one year after the date of the check.

The relevant regulations are contained in Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, and the Government has published guidance which shows a list of acceptable documents which can be used as evidence of the right to rent.

There are also regulations which apply in respect of tenancies which commenced prior to 1 February 2016, and numerous exemptions, such as student halls of residence and residence rights in hostels and refuges operated by social landlords.