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‘Right to rent’ explained

If you’re planning to let your Fylde property, you’re now under a legal obligation to ensure your tenant has the ‘right to rent’ (ie, they’re legally entitled to be in the country). But what does that mean? What are the details of your responsibilities? And can you avoid all the time and hassle by asking your Fylde letting agent to do it all for you (the simple answer to that last one is “yes”, but we’ll get to that shortly…)

Who do you need to check?

Every tenant aged 18 or over, with the only exceptions applying to people living in social housing and care homes.It doesn’t matter whether they’re named on the tenancy agreement. It doesn’t even matter if there is no tenancy agreement. And it’s illegal to only check those tenants you think aren’t British citizens. Everyone over 18 needs checking.

What do you need to check?

You need to do the following:

  • Check your property will be the tenant’s main home, ie:
    • They’ll live there most of the time
    • Most of their belongings will be there
    • Children or a partner may live there
  • Check the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK. You can find a list of acceptable documents here
  • Check the documents are genuine, current and belong to the tenant:
    • Check photos (with the tenant present) to make sure they match
    • Check dates to ensure they’re i) believable and ii) haven’t expired
    • Check documents for signs of damage or forgery
  • Make and keep copies of all documents and the dates you made the check. Ensure you make good quality copies that can’t be changed (a good photocopy or hi-res photo should be fine), and be sure to copy every page/side of the document.Remember, if you take and store people’s information you’ll be bound by data protection law. You can find more details here

How long should you keep copies of checks?

For the entire time they remain your tenant, and for one year after.

What happens if you don’t make the checks?

You could receive a fine if the person renting your Fylde property turns out to be someone who isn’t allowed to rent in England, and you can’t show that you’ve made the appropriate checks. First offences are punishable by a £1,000 fine. Repeat offences receive a £3,000 fine.

Let your letting agent carry the burden

Clearly, the new requirements add far more than time and hassle to the work of a landlord. They bring risk too, because even if you make all the appropriate checks, if you don’t keep (or lose) a record of that check and your tenant turns out to be here illegally, you’ll be fined.Asking your Fylde letting agent to manage the checks for you can remove the burden of risk, as well as saving you lots of time. That’s because the letting agent will carry the burden (and shoulder the penalty) if they don’t carry out or process checks correctly.

Want to make letting your Fylde property easier (and safer)? Give us a call here.

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