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Why is my landlord asking for my passport?

Posted on 2016-03-10

The new Right to Rent legislation effective of February 1st 2016 means that your landlord must check that you’re legally allowed to live in the UK before beginning your tenancy.

As a result, as well as providing your landlord with references, paying letting agent fees and finding a deposit, you’ll also have to show your landlord your passport and allow them to make copies. Here’s everything you need to know about Right to Rent and how it affects you as a tenant:

Why is my landlord checking my passport?

Landlords in England must now check that all tenants and lodgers can legally rent their residential properties.

This is a check that applies to all new tenants, and it’s against the law for a landlord to only check people they think aren’t British citizens. As such, you should expect your landlord to ask you for proof you can legally live here regardless of your nationality.

Before the start of your tenancy, a landlord must check all tenants aged 18 and over, even if:

  • They’re not named on the tenancy agreement 
  • There’s no tenancy agreement 
  • The tenancy agreement isn’t in writing 

There are some exclusions to this and you only have to prove your right to rent a property if you’re renting it as your main home. So make sure you know the legislation and how it relates to the house you’d like to rent.

The simplest way for a landlord to check that you do have the right to live here is by checking your passport and making a copy of it, which is why they’re asking for it. It’s important to understand that they have the right to do so and that you can’t legally rent the property without providing this proof to your landlord.

What if I don’t have a passport?

Understandably, not everyone has a passport. If you don’t have one, there’s no need to fear. You’ll just need to show similar documents that prove that you do have the right to live here. As such, you’ll have to provide original copies of at least two of the following:

  • Your birth certificate
  • A UK driving licence 
  • A letter from a college or university you’re attending 
  • A letter from your employer 
  • A letter from a passport holder who works in certain professions 
  • A copy of a criminal record check 
  • Evidence that you served in the armed forces 
  • If your passport was stolen, you can provide a letter from the police that confirms this 
  • A letter from HM Prison Service
  • A letter from a government department or local authority
  • A letter form a private rented sector access scheme
  • Paperwork that proves you’re in receipt of benefits 

You can find more information on the Right to Rent document checks a landlord can make here.

What does my landlord do with my documents?

It’s your responsibility as a tenant to prove to your landlord that you actually have the right to live here, and you won’t be able to rent the property if you can’t provide the above evidence.

Once you’ve handed over the documents to your landlord, it’s their responsibility to:

  • Check the original documents to ensure you can rent the property 
  • Check the documents of other adults who live at the property 
  • Make copies of the documents and keep them throughout the tenancy (this can either be a photocopy or a very good photograph) 
  • Return the documents to you as soon as they’ve finished the check

It’s also important to know that your landlord can’t discriminate against you for any of these reasons. If you believe that you’re being discriminated against, you should contact the Equality Advisory Support Service.

To summarise, with the Right to Rent legislation now in effect, your landlord has a right to see your passport or other supporting documents that prove that you do have the right to live in the UK. This is now a standard procedure and you’ll have to provide these documents before you start your tenancy. However, as part of this, your landlord can’t discriminate against you, and you should contact the Equality Advisory Support Service if you believe this is the case.
Image courtesy of iStock

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