Landlords and tenants both have obligations to check whether they meet legal requirements for either providing or receiving accommodation. 

Landlord checks - right to rent

Private landlords and agents are legally required to check the immigration status of all prospective tenants. 

What documents do I need to provide?

A landlord will want to see an original copy of your passport and any relevant visa document demonstrating a legal right to live in the UK. If you are unable to provide such documentation because your application is in process or you’re appealing a decision, the landlord can ask for a ‘right to rent’ check from the Home Office. 

See the government's right to rent website for more information.


Depending on your immigration status you will either have: 

An unlimited right to rentA time-limited right to rent
Right to rent checks take place before the start of your tenancy  

Right to rent checks must be done within 28 days of the tenancy start date

 No further checks are required for this tenancy  

Your documents will need to be checked again at the following intervals:

  • Annually from the date the last checks were made
  • Until the expiration of your ‘leave to be in the UK’
  • Until the expiration of the documentation which evidences your right to be in the UK
Check your eligibilitiy at www.gov.uk
Summary of the table's contents

What is an HMO?

HMOs are properties where three or more unrelated people share facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

Large HMOs require a mandatory licence to operate

A property is defined as a large HMO if all of the following criteria are met:

  • If there are five or more unrelated people in a property
  • Some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities
  • At least one tenant pays rent

Properties that aren’t large HMOs may still require a licence. Some councils have introduced additional licencing requirements.

Check if your landlord needs a licence


Tenant checks - checking the legal property owner

A large majority of students would rather rent a room in houses/flats with other students (not always Imperial Students). This can sometimes be problematic as the Landlord may have a tenancy with one tenant but allow them to rent out additional rooms - this is called sub-letting.

However, in some cases the landlord does not have any knowledge of this subletting. Without an official contract between you and the legal property owner you do not have any protection and the landlord could ask to leave the accommodation immediately or could ask you to pay additional rent.

If you are unsure whether the landlord owns the property you are about to rent, use the Land Registry website which may have a record of your landlord’s name and address. 

You’ll need to pay a small fee for this information.

If the prospective landlord is not the property owner, you will need proof that they have the right to rent it to you.

Houses of multiple occupancy

Does your landlord have the correct licence for the property? If you live in a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) it is worth checking if the landlord has the correct licence to legally rent out their property. 

How do I find out if my property has an HMO licence?

To find out whether a property has an HMO licence, ask your landlord or contact your local council. They have a list of all the licensed landlords in their area.

What if an HMO doesn't have a licence

It is a criminal offence for your landlord to operate an HMO without a licence, and they could face prosecution.

If you think that the HMO you are living in may be unlicensed, you should report your landlord to your local council. You may be eligible to make a claim against them for a ‘rent repayment order’.