Why it’s important to check the right to reside status of foreign tenants

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21 Feb Why it’s important to check the right to reside status of foreign tenants

As part of our continuing work as the leading independent estate agent in Tunbridge Wells, we like to make sure that our readers and clients are well informed on issues that can affect them. If you are a private landlord and have foreign tenants it is your responsibility to provide proof that they have the right to reside in the UK.

It can be fairly unpleasant business asking your tenants for proof of their right to reserve but it is essential if you are to avoid some fairly harsh penalty fines should your tenants be found lacking the right to reside.

So how do you check your tenant’s right to rent?

We’ve broken down the steps you will need to take to ensure you are getting the correct information for your checks.

Firstly it’s important to know WHO to check. Essentially, you need check everyone over the age of 18 to ensure they have the right to rent – even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement. In fact, it is against the law to only check people you suspect are not British citizens.

Check if the property is the tenant’s main home. They might live there most of the time, they keep the majority of their belongings there, and have registered to vote and with a doctor from that address.

Check original documents. You will need to check that their permission to stay in the UK is still valid, their documents are their own and the information matches across all documents and they have not been doctored in any way.

Ensure you make copies of your tenants’ documents and keep them organised where you will be able to find them should you be asked for them.

At this point you may feel like more of an untrained border control officer than a landlord but the gov.uk website makes it clear that the responsibility lies with landlord. This awkwardness is not likely to end any time soon ether. With the UK exiting the EU on March 29th (with or without a deal) it is looking increasingly likely that landlords will need to be vigilante with tenants from EU when it comes to right to rent checks.

It is important to recognise that while this all may feel very awkward, especially as you may have a long standing relationship with your tenant, it’s nothing personal. This process is purely a government requirement now so that you are both in line with British law. Many tenants may not be familiar with the Right to Rent laws and so it would benefit you to explain that you have to check every tenant, existing or otherwise.

Get in Touch

If you would like any advice on renting a property in Tunbridge Wells or to ask about anything included in this article make sure you get in touch with a member of our team on 01892 548049 or email us. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

photo credit: Pormezz

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