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New rules for landlords - Who's staying in your house?

All private landlords now have to check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent a residential property in England.

And landlords, including those who sub-let or take in lodgers, must keep a copy of evidence to prove residents of their rented properties have a right to rent.

The evidence can include copies of passports or a biometric residence permit and must be retained by the landlord.

The new rules extend beyond the rent-paying tenant and include all adults living at the property if it is their only or main home, even if there is no tenancy agreement or the tenancy agreement isn't in writing. Social housing and care homes are not included.

If the tenant is only allowed to stay in the UK for a limited time, landlords need to do the check in the 28 days before the start of the tenancy.

They must make a further check on tenants to make sure they can still rent property in the UK if their permission to stay is time limited. If a tenant doesn't pass a further check the Home Office must be informed.     

The new legislation was effective from February 1 but does not apply to existing tenancy agreements dated before February 1, 2016.

If a tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can request a Home Office Right to Rent check which will be returned within two working days.

Landlords who employ a letting agent to manage their properties should satisfy themselves that these checks are being carried out as part of the service they receive. Fines of up to £3,000 can be levied on landlords by the Home Office where these new rules are not complied with.

Government guidance is that when you are with the tenant, you need to check that:

If the tenant is arranging their tenancy from overseas, their original documents must be seen before they start living at the property. 

The landlord's code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation must be followed.

More information and guidance about the scheme and the landlord's code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation and the code of practice for landlords avoiding unlawful discrimination when conducting right to rent checks in the private rented residential sector can be found on the Gov.UK website - see Useful links.

Or you can call the landlord's helpline, 0300 069 9799, Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4.45pm, Friday, 9am to 4.30pm.