From the 1st February 2016, all landlords of residential rented property are obligated by law to check all occupants over the age of 18 have a right to legally reside within the UK prior to renting a property to them. If you do not carry this out correctly, you may face a fine of up to £3000 per tenant. If you knowingly allow an occupant to live in your property despite them not being allowed to reside in the UK, you could face an unlimited fine and/or prison sentence.
How do I comply?
1) You must check all intended occupants over the age of 18 have valid documents allowing them to reside in the UK. You must see original copies of documents, in person. Note: it is NOT acceptable to video call, or to see photographs/photocopies of the documents.
A list of acceptable documents can be found here: click here
You must check:
a) all documents are originals
b) The photograph matches the tenant and has not been tampered with
c) The documents are in date (if applicable)
d) The documents have not expired (if applicable)
e) The date of birth is the same in all documents
f) If names are different, there are supporting documents to explain why (marriage certificate etc)
Note: If the tenant does not have the right documents, you can use the Home Office Landlords' checking service. You can also contact the Landlords' helpline on 0300 069 97990.
2) You must make a copy of all documents (both sides and all pages with expiry dates). These must be held surely until 12 months after the tenancy has ended (in line with the Data Protection Act 1998 and GDPR). You must record the date you have checked the documents.
3) If the documents provided were time limited, you must carry out follow up checks 12 months after the check, or at the point of expiry, whichever comes sooner. If the tenant fails a follow up check, you must advise the Home Office immediately. If you fail to advise them you will face a fine or a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
4) If there are occupants who were not 18, but turn 18 whilst living in the property, they must present their documents when they turn 18.