What is the change? The U.K. government’s new policy that requires landlords to check tenants’ right to rent is now in effect across England.

What does the change mean? All private landlords who are renting, subletting or taking in lodgers must check the papers of new adult tenants to make sure they have the right to live in the U.K.

  • Implementation time frame: The policy took effect Feb. 1 for all of England. It has been in effect as a pilot program in West Midlands since December 2014.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas, travel documents and other evidence of immigration status.
  • Who is affected: Private landlords in England and all temporary migrants, permanent residents and British citizens seeking to rent in England.
  • Business impact: Employers who are renting on behalf of foreign employees may agree to a “tenancy in principle” before the employee arrives in the U.K., and the landlord would conduct a check of the right to rent when the employee arrives.
  • Next steps: Landlords should be familiar with the list of documents that prove right to rent, and foreign employees and assignees should be aware that they will have to present their passport, visa or other proof of right to rent.

Background: The U.K. government has published a user guide that details and depicts the various forms of acceptable evidence of right to rent. Foreign nationals holding temporary documents, such as travel vignettes, will be rechecked once the biometric residence permit is issued. Landlords are advised to make and keep copies of the documents, as they will have a statutory safe harbor if it is later found that they rented to someone who didn’t have the right to rent. Landlords face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant for failing to perform the checks.

BAL Analysis: The policy adds an administrative burden on property owners to understand the various immigration statuses and documents and to recognize fraudulent documents. Foreign nationals who have a pending application with the Home Office or whose identity documents are being held by the Home Office during processing may have to wait for the landlord to request a right to rent check by the Home Office and allow two days for a response.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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