St Albans Landlords: A Guide To Right To Rent Checks In 2021

Landlords are responsible for making sure only those who are eligible can access the private rental sector. This includes checking that a person has the right immigration status to remain in the UK. Failure to do this properly can result in high penalties.

Many landlords who use a letting agent to let their property, benefit from the agent taking care of these checks. This means they do not need to worry about conducting the checks themselves and ensures they are following all regulation.

If you are a St Albans landlord, don’t get caught out, read on to find out what all landlords need to do before a tenancy agreement is issued.

Right to Rent Check and COVID

The Government is now permitting virtual right to rent checks in England by a further month until 31 August 2021. This is to take the extension of lockdown restrictions into account.

The Government will also not require landlords to conduct retrospective right to rent checks on tenants during this time. Right to rent checks are to begin again as normal from 1 September 2021.

Who Has a Right to Rent?

The right to rent relates to a person's immigration status. Depending on what that is and which kind of leave to remain in the UK they’re in possession of, people can have:

  • An unlimited right to rent
  • A time-limited right to rent
  • No right to rent

Here are some of the basics around those who have a right to rent. Someone has an unlimited right to rent if they are:

  • A British citizen
  • An EU, EEA or Swiss national until 30 June 2021
  • A Commonwealth Citizen with right of abode in the UK
  • Someone with indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • Someone who has settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

Those with a time-limited right to rent are:

  • Those with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • Those who are receiving humanitarian protection
  • People with discretionary leave to remain
  • People who are studying or have a work or family visa
  • Those who’ve got a time-limited permission to rent granted by the Home Office

A person is ineligible to rent if they do not have valid leave to enter or remain in the UK.

How St Albans Landlords Should Carry Out Right to Rent Checks

Due to COVID-19 St Albans landlords can ask for documents digitally and make checks on video calls until 31 August 2021. Here are 5 must-dos:

  • Check which adults will be using the property as their main home
  • Ask to see original documents which prove they have the right to live in the UK
  • Check that the documents allow the tenant the right to rent
  • Ensure each tenant’s documents are genuine with the tenant present
  • Make copies of all documents and record the date of the checks

A property would typically be a tenant’s only or main home if they plan to live there for the majority of the time. They may intend to keep most of their belongings there and their partner or children may also be going to live with them.

Other signs that this is to be their main home would be if they’re using the address to register with their GP.

Checking Original Documents

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to make sure documents are originals and belong to the person who wishes to rent your property. You should check to make sure their permission to stay in the UK has not ended.

You need to be sure that all photos on any documents are those of the tenant and that dates of birth are credible. If documents appear damaged or tampered with, this should act as a potential warning sign.

Sometimes the names on documents are legitimately different. In these cases, you should check supporting documents like marriage certificates or divorce decrees.

What to Do if Tenants Do Not Have the Right Documents

You should use the landlord’s checking service provided by the Home Office to find out if the tenant can rent without the right documents.

You will need the tenant’s Home Office reference number to do this. The Home Office claims to give answers within two working days.

The bottom line is that you should not rent to someone who does not have the right documents. You should also not accept a tenant if the landlord’s checking service tells you they are ineligible to rent.

We’re There to Help All St Albans Landlords

We know that the rules around the right to rent can feel like a bit of a minefield. We’ve been handling property lettings in and around St Albans City Centre for more than twenty-five years.

If you’re a St Albans landlord and would like to find out more our lettings services, contact our expert lettings team today on 01727 836561.