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What documents are needed for a ‘right to rent’ check?
All employers are currently responsible not only for checking the immigration status of their staff but for retaining proof of the documents checked and the same duty will apply to landlords or letting agents under these new regulations.
Documents a landlord should request as evidence of a tenant’s right to rent can include a passport, national identity card, residence card or certificate of registration or naturalisation. If none of these are available, two other specified documents, such as a photo ID driving licence or a birth certificate, will satisfy the checks. There is a full list of acceptable documents in the Code of Practice produced by the Home Office.
Landlords should be mindful of their obligations to protect personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998 and all copies of documents, whether paper or electronic, should be kept securely and for no longer than necessary. The landlord is not entitled to retain original documents presented by the prospective tenant and must take a copy of the documents provided. Landlords have to keep these copies for as long as the tenancy lasts and then for at least one year afterwards.
The importance of keeping copies of documents cannot be overstated. Baroness Scotland, the then Attorney General, was fined £5,000 in 2009 for employing an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper because she failed to keep copies of the relevant paperwork.