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A students’ guide to right to rent checks

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As a student, if you're living away from home, you might be renting for the first time. To make sure the process is as seamless as possible, we want to help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and make sure you have everything you need to sign your contract.

Before you can sign a tenancy agreement, you will first need to undergo a right to rent check. We'll unpack everything you need to know about right to rent checks, from what they are, to the evidence you need to provide. (Don't worry. It's not as intense as it sounds.)

What is a right to rent check?

Right to rent checks were introduced in the UK from February 2016, as part of the government's efforts to prevent illegal immigration. To avoid a £3,000 penalty, all private landlords and letting agents need to verify that their tenants have the right to rent a property in the UK and aren't living in the country illegally. As a tenant, you will need to provide evidence that this is the case.

Do I have the right to rent?

You have the right to rent in the UK, if:

  • You're a British or Irish citizen
  • You have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • You have refugee status or humanitarian protection
  • You have settled or pre-settled status under the EU settlement scheme
  • You have permission to be in the UK, on a student or a work visa
  • The Home Office has granted you a time-limited right to rent

Bear in mind that when carrying out right to rent checks, landlords have a duty to avoid unlawful discrimination based on:

  • Race, colour, or ethnicity
  • Nationality or place of birth
  • Length of residency in the UK
  • Accent or English language skills

This policy is in place to protect tenants so you can't be treated unfairly when renting.

Do students need right to rent checks?

If you are privately renting a property as a student and you are over the age of 18, you will need to undergo a right to rent check before you can sign your tenancy agreement. However, if you are living in halls of residence then you will be exempt from right to rent checks. This applies to halls owned by both universities and private organisations or landlords. 

How is a right to rent check carried out?

Your landlord or letting agent can carry out a right to rent check in one of two ways: by manually checking your documents, or by using the Home Office online checking service. Your right to rent check can be carried out outside the UK, but not more than 28 days before you begin your tenancy agreement.

What do you need for a manual right to rent check?

In a manual check, your landlord will check your original documents in person and take a copy for their records. For British and Irish citizens this is fairly simple, as you can just provide your passport.

If you don't have a passport or you're not a British or Irish citizen, you can provide one of the following documents:

  • A passport or travel document endorsed to show that you have the right of abode in the UK, are exempt from immigration control, or are otherwise permitted to stay in the UK indefinitely
  • An immigration status document with a photograph issued by the Home Office endorsing your right to stay in the UK indefinitely
  • A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.

Alternatively, you can provide two of the following documents:

  • A UK driving licence
  • A UK birth certificate 
  • A letter from your college or university confirming your acceptance, issued no more than three months ago
  • A letter from your employer, confirming your name, status as an employee, and National Insurance number, issued no more than three months ago
  • A DBS certificate, issued no more than 3 months ago.

You can find the full list of accepted documents by checking the right to rent user guide from GOV.UK.

What do you need for an online right to rent check?

Your landlord can use the Home Office online checking service to assess your right to rent, if:

  • You are a non-EEA national with a current biometric resident permit or card
  • You are an EEA national or the family member of an EEA national with status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • You have status under the points-based immigration system

To carry out the online check, you need to view your own status electronically, find your share code, and give it to your landlord. Your landlord can then enter the share code and your date of birth to see your right to rent profile page. They will then verify that the image in your profile is actually you, either in-person or via video link.

Will international students pass a right to rent check?

If you're an international student who's been accepted into a UK university to study full-time, then you will pass a right to rent check. You can provide your student visa and university acceptance letter as evidence. 

If you're unsure about anything, get in touch with your university housing services team for additional support and information.

Ready to rent?

StuRents is currently the only property management software that includes integrated Right to Rent checks, as well as credit and reference checks, making the whole process easier for both landlords and tenants. Why not search for your next student property on our listings platform, StuRents.com?


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