Private landlords must check the immigration status of prospective tenants and lodgers before they move in, to avoid liability for a civil penalty.

From 1 February 2016 if a landlord rents to an illegal migrant and has not carried out a correct right to rent check, they could be liable to a civil penalty. The penalty is up to £3,000 per tenant.

The law on the Right to Rent

Under section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014 a landlord should not authorise an adult to occupy property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, or EEA or Swiss national, or has a “right to rent” in the UK.

Who does the check?

Landlord, agents, householder and/or tenants/occupiers that sub-let or take in a lodger.

Delegation of responsibility

Landlords and householders can appoint an agent to conduct the check on their behalf. This agreement should be in writing. Where an agent has accepted responsibility for checking right to rent, the agent will be the liable party, in place of the landlord.

When to check

Checks must be carried out for all new tenancies entered into after 1 February 2016.

Who should be checked?

All adults aged 18 or over using the property as their only or main home should be checked. This is even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement, even if another pays the rent and regardless if the tenancy is written, oral or implied. Both tenants and lodgers need to be checked. Children do not need to be checked, but a landlord should be certain they are underage.

Up-to-date guidance can be found on GOV.UK