This is a key part of your rental application. It can seem intimidating at first, but right to rent checks are actually very straightforward. We’ve set out everything you need to know to prepare for your document checks, from why they are required to what information you’ll need to provide.
What does right to rent mean?
To rent a property in England, you first have to prove that you have the right to do so. This means that when you find a property you like, your landlord or letting agent will first have to conduct some checks to confirm you have a legal status to live in the country.
You have a right to rent in the UK if:
- You're a British or EEA citizen
- You have indefinite leave (without restriction) to remain in the UK, or you have settled status
- You have permission to be in the UK (for example, if you are currently on a work or student visa)
- You have been granted a time-limited right to rent by the Home Office
You won’t have to prove your right to rent if you’re looking to rent student accommodation, social housing, or accommodation provided by your employer, to name a few. A full list of exemptions can be found here.
If you do have to prove your right to rent, don’t worry. It’s an easy process, and we’ll guide you through it.
What to expect
Your document checks will likely take place after you’ve found the property you want to rent, and before you move in - around the same time you will be expected to provide your rental deposit.
Generally, right to rent checks are done quickly and efficiently. Here at Ocasa Homes, we complete all of your document checks within a 48 hour period - so you don’t have to wait long to see if you’re able to rent your chosen property.
During the right to rent document checks, your landlord or letting agent will:
- Check through your documents (and the documents of anyone else you’re planning to live with) to make sure you have the right to rent a property in England
- Make copies of your documents to keep until you leave the property
- Return your documents to you once they have made copies and the right to rent checks have been completed
Your landlord or letting agent may also need to do repeat checks during or at the end of the tenancy if there’s a time limit on your right to remain in the UK. If you aren’t able to prove your right to rent, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to rent your chosen property.
To avoid this, make sure you’re prepared by having your documents in order.
Right to rent checks: what you need to provide
When carrying out a document check, your landlord will ask for some information to prove your right to rent. Usually, your landlord will ask you to provide them with the following documents.
Proof of identity
Typically, this will be either your passport, driving licence, or birth certificate, but your landlord may ask for more than one of these documents. If you don’t have any of these, you might be able to provide an alternative - check out this guide for all acceptable documents.
If you weren’t born in the UK but are currently living here, you’ll need to provide information about your immigration status. You can show a passport or residence document to pass this check. But if you’re not an EU national, then your passport must confirm that you have permission to be in the UK.
If your documents are with the Home Office, simply provide your landlord with your reference number so they can verify your immigration status.
Other documents you’ll need to provide
In addition to proving your identity, your landlord will also need to consider whether you will be an appropriate tenant. This means you’ll need to provide further information, such as:
Letting agents and some landlords will conduct credit checks to see if you’ve had any problems paying rent or bills on time. This might sound a bit scary at first, but don’t worry. They have to ask your permission first, and you won’t be penalised if you don’t have a credit history.
You’ll only be affected if you have what’s called “adverse credit”, which means you’ve got a poor record of paying credit commitments.
Remember that your landlord cannot charge you for doing credit checks, as this is illegal. Don’t pay for any fees you aren’t sure of.
You’ll also need to give a reference to show that you can afford to pay rent, and that you’ll be a good tenant.
Typically, a reference can come from:
- your current / previous landlord or letting agent
- your employer (to prove that you have a job and income)
In some cases, you might be expected to provide a guarantor - usually when you haven’t rented before. You can find out all about referencing, and when you’ll need to find a guarantor in our blog: What does tenant referencing involve?
Ultimately, the document checks process is easy and efficient if you have everything in order. Be sure to organise your documents before you’ve found a property to rent - this way, you can keep the process moving smoothly, and get moved into your new home sooner!
For more information on how to rent successfully, check out our complete guide to moving out for the first time.