Lodger landlords must carry out Right to Rent checks

Right to rent checks by lodger landlords have been made mandatory since February 2016. Hence all the landlords in U.K. have to necessarily carry out checks on the occupants and make sure they have a right to rent lest the landlords become liable to pay hefty fines.

Landlords need to go on a damage control exercise by making sure that the tenant has a genuine right to rent, and prove to the authorities that as a landlord he is following the rules by the book so that there is no need to pay fines. While the onus of keeping out illegal immigrants is the immigration department, a landlord should make sure he or she is no harbouring illegal immigrants with or without having any knowledge about it. It is better to follow some basic tips like:

  • Keeping meticulous records of every check and the findings
  • Recording the date on which the check was carried out
  • The name of the person who carried out the check
  • A transcript of the questions asked and the answers given by the tenant
  • Photo copies of ID documents provided by the tenant while moving in

The above records need to be maintained safely for at least a year after the tenant moves out of the premises.

Another important point to remember while carrying out the checks is to make sure that checks are carried out on the entire family, leaving out just the underage children. Teenagers who look suspiciously above 18 years need to be verified thoroughly by scrutinizing their papers as well. It is better to include all the names (with ages) in the tenancy agreement, and it is better to include a clause that there should strictly be no sub-letting of the premises, nor should anyone be allowed to move in after the tenant occupies the premises.

The above rules apply to landlords as well as people who take in lodgers on a temporary basis. The rules also apply to those who plan to rent out property under a license and to property guardians as well. It is advisable to keep updated with the information the Home office is constantly updating on its website. Landlords are expected to keep themselves informed of the latest developments, ignorance will not be accepted as a valid excuse. Fines can be rather stiff, with £1,000 being charged in the first instance, and £3,000 for subsequent deviations.