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Since 2014 in England, landlords and lettings agents have had the legal responsibility to carry out detailed checks on tenants before a tenancy agreement starts. These identity checks are aimed at stopping individuals without lawful immigration status from being able to rent property from a private landlord and is known as Right to Rent checks. If a landlord or letting agency business doesn’t comply with the laws and is later found to be renting property without the right to be in the UK legally, they ae liable for fines.

Increased Non-Compliance Fines

The government has recently announced that fines for landlords found to be renting to people who are in the UK illegally are to increase dramatically in 2024. Before the changes come into effect, the fines for renting to illegal immigrants were £80 for someone living as a lodger in your property, and £1000 for a tenant in a rented flat or house. Under new legislation these will rise to £5000 for a lodger and £10,000 for an occupying tenant. For repeat offenders are even higher, with sums of up to £30,000 for each illegal tenant found in a property.

More Stringent Checks

With such a dramatic increase in fines, it’s perhaps no surprise that landlords and letting agents are starting to tighten up their processes when it comes to checking up on the people who want to work for them. The methods which landlords can use to check you out are not changing, it’s just that they are applying the checks more rigorously, irrespective of whether you have lived in the UK your whole life or have rented property from them before. These increased checks apply to absolutely everyone, so if you experience stricter checks than you are used to, don’t take it personally.

The three main methods which landlords can use to check out their prospective tenants are:

  • Manual Right to Rent Checks – this is the traditional way of checking up on tenants or prospective workers. Tenants will be asked to attend the office in person to show their passports or other identity documents to prove who they are and that they have the legal right to live in the UK.
  • Digital Right to Rent Checks – these can only be done for UK or Irish citizens and involve verifying someone’s identity using the government online portals. The advantage of these checks is that they are quicker than manual checks, and don’t involve the tenant having to come into the office.
  • Home Office online Right to Rent check these are only suitable for non-British and non-Irish citizens who have a government eVisa as proof of their immigration status.

Whatever category you fall into, be prepared for a higher level of checking if you are thinking of renting property in 2024. Checks are nothing to be scared of, but you will be asked to show your passport, or other identity documents to help the landlords avoid some hefty fines. As the government continues to try to make life difficult for people in the UK illegally, expect further changes in the laws in the future.