A right to rent?

Speech bubbles with questions and answers

Landlords must check a tenant or lodger can legally rent a property in the UK. Situations can arise whereby a tenants’ status changes, or additional adults move into the property. The below guide will assist you in managing typical scenarios.


Document checking

Limited right to rent

Document checking

“My tenant has asked if they can move their partner into the property, and they have asked for a new joint tenancy agreement. However, I am unsure if their partner’s documents are genuine/they don’t have the requested documents.”

  • When checking their documents you need to check that:
    • the documents are originals and belong to that person
    • their permission to stay in the UK has not ended
    • photographs resemble the individual in person
    • the date of birth is credible
    • the documents are no too damaged or do not look to have been tampered with
    • if the name on the document is different, they provide evidence to explain why (marriage certificate or deed poll)
  • The Home Office guidance confirms you only have to be satisfied that the documents seem genuine.
  • The prospective tenant may not have their documents for a number of reasons:
    • the home office has their documents
    • the have an outstanding case or appeal with the Home Office
    • the Home Office told them they have ‘permission to rent’
  • If they don’t have them, you must use the landlord’s immigration checking service. You will get an answer in two working days.
  • Please note, if your tenant is the one granting occupancy, i.e. taking in a lodger or sub-tenant, it will be the tenant who is required to carry out the checks themselves as they are that person’s landlord.  They will not have to do this if they have a guest whose will not be using the property as their main home, as those occupiers are exempt from the checks.
  • Further checking right to rent documents information.

Limited right to rent

“My tenant has a limited right to rent. Will I need to evict them at the end of their fixed term? “

  • If your tenant has limited right to rent, and you have checked for example, their passport with a limited leave to remain stamp, or their residence card with time limited permission, you will need to complete a further right to rent check when their document expires, or 12 months after the initial check, whichever is sooner.
  • If your tenant is able to use an e-passport gate (national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, USA) and they have biometric passport plus, or evidence of entry into the UK in the last 6 months, you will need to check their documents again after 12 months.
  • Further information on checking right to rent documents.
  • You must tell the Home Office if you discover that your tenant can no longer legally rent a property in England.
  • It is advisable that your tenant consults with a specialist immigration advisor before their document expires/within the first 12 months as appropriate. 

“I have joint tenants. They have been renting from me for over a year. One tenant had a limited right to rent. I have completed a follow up check, and this tenant is now disqualified.”

If it is an assured/assured short hold tenancy, you can transfer the tenancy into the name of the remaining tenant. A tenancy cannot be amended to alter the name(s) of the tenants.  There are other ways to move from a joint to a sole tenancy, the simplest being all parties surrendering the joint tenancy and the landlord reissuing a sole one.  The other methods would be one joint tenant assigning their interest to the other (if the tenancy agreement allowed or the landlord consented), or a transfer by court order under family law. Liability for rent arrears would fall to whoever was a tenant at the time the arrears on that tenancy built up.

Last updated on 02/02/2022