Right to rent - can it be done after the start of a tenancy?

I’ve just been told that one of the 2 tenants due to move in tomorrow has had to return home and won’t be able to complete Right to Rent checks. Is there any scope for doing it after the tenancy has started, in 2 weeks when she has returned? Thanks

Hi. No there isn’t. The checks should be done before you agree to any tenancy. If she was due to move in tomorrow the checks should have been completed before you agreed to a tenancy with them. Did you and the prospective tenants both sign the tenancy before any checks ? You could be fined or even jailed if you issue a tenancy and you haven’t done the checks. You also need to keep copies of all the documents up to a year after they have left. Have you checked the other tenant? Are you assuming that because they are related/ friends/ in a partnership that one has passed therefore the other will?

We used the gov.co.uk website to see what we had to check for. I don’t know if OpenRent has any guidelines too.

Hi Tim, landlords must check all tenants’ right to rent in the UK before creating a tenancy with them.

More info here:

Thanks for the replies.
This was my first time using Open Rent to set up a tenancy. Right to Rent requirements where you have to physically see the tenants with their documents is obviously a major drawback of using an online service. I was well aware of R2R obligations and usually get it done when meeting the tenants to sign the contract. My fault, I know. Lesson learnt.

Hi Tim, you could inspect the documents at a viewing as you say, or at the check in if you arrange one.

We expect Right to Rent to be scrapped fairly soon, as it has been under strong criticism for some years and is a key plank of ‘Hostile Environment’ policy which the new government does not seem to support.


Hi Sam, thanks for your reply.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t check the documents at the check in as one of the tenants had had to leave the country.
So we agreed to cancel the contract and tried to do this using OR’s surrender document but on that it says the tenant has received his deposit so he won’t sign it and MyDeposits say they can’t return the deposit for 30 days.
Cancelling the tenancy through my OR account requires the acknowledgement of the surrender document, so I am going round in circles with an understandably irate “tenant”.

Hi Tim, if all parties do not wish to proceed with the tenancy, then you can proceed on that basis. You can then formalise this position to the degree you feel comfortable with. If the OpenRent surrender agreement won’t work for all parties, then you are free to use other surrender agreements with terms that all parties will agree to. The deposit schemes are highly regulated and designed to function for properly set up tenancies where all checks have been performed at the appropriate times.

From some quick research, I believe most solicitors/websites will charge around £100 for drafting a surrender document. OpenRent provides one for free, but it is designed to work within the context of a properly set-up tenancy, where all checks have been performed at the appropriate times.

But none of this may matter; if you have all agreed not to go ahead with the tenancy, and you act on that basis and in good faith, then there is no problem. You can formalise this however you wish.


Why not ask the tenant who has left to use a mobile phone or digital camera to photograph their Residence Permit that gives them the right to rent and send it to you by email? Is there a legal reason why you must personally check its existence? If so, who can tell if you did or not, as taking a photograph or photocopy yourself is no different in my mind from asking them to send a copy to you!
If you performed a formal reference check, e.g. through Open Rent, then it should have been provided to you as part of the reference check results

Thanks for your reply John45
It is a requirement that you check the documents in person. I agree it could be easily manipulated but if you have never actually met the person then you are taking a huge leap of faith in total strangers and the downside is all the landlords.
Open Rent’s tenancy process isn’t up to the task. While the landlord is asked several times during the tenancy set up process if they have an EPC, Gas Safety etc - all services that OR can make money from - there are no checks that Right to Rent has been done - OR can’t make money from this, coincidence? :slight_smile:

Hi Tim, we could easily make money selling a digital rght to rent check - the only problem is that it would be a fraud!

The documents need to be checked by the landlord, in the presence of the tenant, then photocopied and signed. That’s why we don’t include a Right to Rent check in our process.

Unlike assessing a boiler, there’s no special training required to perform the right to rent check. We would not recommend that our landlords attempt to conduct their own gas safety certificate and so we offer this as an optional service performed by a Gas Safe engineer.

As I say, it is likely that the requirement to check documents will soon be scrapped and landlords will no longer have to worry about this.