Landlords - beware of fake Right to Rent documentation
The Right to Rent Document Checks came into force on 1st February 2016. The majority of landlords and letting agents will have incorporated immigration checks into their standard pre-tenancy processes.
As a landlord, you are required to check if a prospective tenant has the legal right to rent in the UK and there is a chance you could potentially be provided with false documentation by unlawful tenants.
As part of its Inside Out London show, the BBC carried out an investigation into the Right to Rent scheme and suggested that the legislation might be fuelling a black market for forged IDs and documentation.
Landlords need to spot fakes
The Right to Rent scheme requires landlords to check prospective tenants' documents to validate their eligibility to live in the UK.
The Government has created a comprehensive guide that clearly sets out which documents you can accept as a landlord and what to do in different scenarios to ensure compliance.
With the number of fake ID documents clearly on the rise, here is a list of some of the things to look out for when carrying out Right to Rent checks:
- Does the name on the document match up with the name given by the prospective tenant?
- Is there a clear likeness between the tenant and the photo on the ID document provided?
- Are there any obvious signs of document tampering? Lettering is one part of an ID document which is commonly tampered with, so it's important to check closely.
- How accurate does the size and position of the photo look on the document?
- Is the documentation provided in date/valid?
If you don't comply with Right to Rent checks you could be hit with a heavy fine or criminal prosecution. According to the Home Office, since October last year there have been 170 fines issued to landlords under the Right to Rent scheme.
If you’re unsure about anything, the Government has plenty of online guides and videos to help you through the process. If the tenant doesn’t have the right documents you can always Request a Home Office Right to Rent check if:
- the Home Office has their documents;
- they have an outstanding case or appeal with the Home Office;
- the Home Office told them they have ‘permission to rent’.
With the risk of being presented with potential fakes and fines for not carrying out the correct checks, it’s becoming increasing important for landlords to ensure their tenant’s Right to Rent in the UK.