What is right to rent?

In England, all tenants over the age of 18 must prove they are legally allowed to live in the UK. This requires presenting documents to their landlord or agent or, in some cases, providing an online share code. Right to rent can be permanent or temporary, depending on the document held by the tenant.

The penalties for renting to individuals who do not meet these criteria became more stringent in 2024. The fine for an illegal occupier is now £10,000 for first offenders, with even more serious repercussions for ongoing offenders. Learn more here.

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What is a right to rent check?

A right to rent check is a legal requirement for landlords in England (or agents working on their behalf). It means that they must check if any tenant they take on has the right to live in the UK before the tenancy begins.

For a check to be carried out, the tenant must present documents proving their right to stay in the UK, such as a British passport or a visa. This must be done before the tenancy begins. If their permission to stay has a time limit, another check must be carried out within a year or before the visa ends, whichever comes first.


When did right to rent checks start?

Right to rent checks were introduced by the Home Office in 2014 as part of the Immigration Act. Originally, failure to comply only led to a fine, but the penalty was increased to include potential prison time in 2016. In the same year, an additional offence was added, meaning that landlords and agents who become aware that a tenant has no legal right to rent can be subject to prosecution. However, provided that right to rent checks have been carried out properly and the person in question is removed, this will provide a defence from prosecution.

The latest change to the law came in 2024 when fines were increased.


Do UK citizens need to prove right to rent?

Yes, UK citizens and Irish citizens do need to prove their right to rent.

British or Irish citizens can prove their right to rent in England by showing:

  • their British passport (current or expired)
  • their Irish passport or passport card (current or expired)
  • their certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

If they do not have a passport, passport card or citizenship certificate, they may be able to use other documents to prove their right to rent.

They may also be able to use an online Identity Service Provider (IDSP) to prove their right to rent instead of it falling on the agent or landlord.


How can non-UK citizens prove their right to rent?

Prospective tenants can prove their right to rent online by giving you their right to rent share code.

To get a code, they must have any of the following:

  • a biometric residence card or permit
  • a settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • applied for a visa and used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document on your phone.

Ask the prospective tenant to visit the GOV.UK ‘Prove your right to rent’ page and follow the instructions there. They must:

  • Select the corresponding option for their immigration status.
  • Follow the steps until they are given a share code.
  • Share their birthday and share code with you.

Once you have their share code, you can use the GOV.UK ‘View a tenant’s right to rent’ page to verify their residence status.

If a tenant has a limited-time right to rent, such as holding a visa with an expiry date, the above GOV.UK page will let you know when you must conduct a follow-up check to ensure they still have the right to rent.

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How do I check a tenant’s right to rent?

A tenant must either present their identification documents in person, use the Home Office online service, or, if they hold a British or Irish passport, through IDVT (Identity Document Validation Technology) using an IDSP (Identity Service Provider).

Inform your tenants about how they can prove their right to rent with our flyer template. Simply customise it with your agency’s logo and contact information and pass it on to your renters.

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What is a right to rent document?

There is no official documentation that landlords or agents need to fill out to prove their tenants have the right to rent.

Find out how to check a UK/Irish citizen’s right to rent here.

Find out how to check a non-UK/Irish citizen’s right to rent here.

Not checking your occupier has the right to rent could land you with a fine of up to £20,000, so make sure you’ve followed the steps to be compliant — and have kept an audit trail of documentation to prove when you’ve checked.

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