The Government introduced legislation to try and prevent illegal immigrants in the private rented sector establishing a settled life in the UK.
As a tenant, you have a responsibility to prove to the landlord, you have a legal right to rent and access the private rented sector.
The Immigration Act 2014 (as amended by the Immigration Act 2016) introduced requirements on landlords and tenants of ‘residential tenancies’ from 1st February 2016.
Responsibility under the Scheme lies with the landlord - that is the person who authorises the occupation of accommodation by the occupier in return for the payment of rent.
The Act requires a landlord not to authorise an adult to occupy property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless they are either a:
- a British citizen,
- European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss national, or
- have a ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK.
Someone will have the ‘Right to Rent’ in the UK provided they are present lawfully in accordance with immigration laws. Tenants who have a ‘Right to Rent’ will either have a limited or unlimited right to rent dependent on their immigration status.
The landlords commit a criminal offence if they let property to an unqualified person in a tenancy.
Landlords will need to keep records of the checks they have undertaken for those people who will occupy their accommodation.
Therefore, unless you are living in Student Accommodation (Halls of Residence) it is likely you will be asked to provide certain documents to evidence that you have a right to rent. All tenants should be asked for this evidence so try not to be offended if a landlord asks to see your passport or other documents which evidence your immigration status. A landlord or letting agent will wish to protect their position in law by checking that a prospective tenant is lawfully here.
IMPORTANT – this also applies to subletting - If an occupier sub-lets and authorises occupation by other adults under another residential tenancy agreement, then they will be responsible for occupation by the sub-tenants and sub-occupiers and as such may be liable to a criminal offence if they do not undertake sufficient checks and allow occupation by a person who needs and does not have a right to rent.
Letting and Managing Agents - Where landlords use the services of an agent to let or manage their property, landlords will need to agree with an agent in writing who is responsible for fulfilling the requirements of the Scheme needed to avoid liability for a penalty. The agent is responsible they can then take the required actions to establish an excuse against a penalty – carry out right to rent checks and report back to the landlord on the outcome of these and where necessary, make a report to the Home Office.
The Student Advice Centre cannot advice on any VISA or immigration related issues. In these circumstances you may wish to contact the University VISA support team via the University web form.