Right to Rent
An important message for Landlords
As a landlord, you have a responsibility to restrict illegal immigrants accessing the private rented sector. Housing illegal immigrants in the private rented sector allows such people to establish a settled life in the UK and frustrate the necessary process of returning them to their home country. This creates a significant cost to the public purse and also reduces the amount of housing stock available to British citizens and others residing here legally.
With effect from 1st February 2016, all Landlords and Agents must carry out checks to ensure that prospective tenants have the right to rent residential property in the UK. We spoke to 45 landlords and 38 of them didn’t understand their responsibility under the new ‘Right to Rent’ rules. Worrying when you consider that anyone who doesn’t abide by the rules can be fined up to £1000 the first time and £3000 thereafter.
If a Landlord (or their appointed Agent) makes the checks and retains copies as required they will have a statutory excuse against a penalty for letting to an illegal migrant
The requirements do not apply to tenancies created before the 1st February 2016 or to any extensions to tenancies created before that date.
So. what does it all mean?
Before granting any new tenancy, Landlords and Agents must see original documents and conduct face-to-face checks with the applicant. Landlords and Agents are allowed to accept a number of documents as proof. In my office my Right to Rent system has a ‘drop-down’ offering 25 qualifying documents.
The Residential Landlords Association has stated that 44% of their members would only accept known documents which could present problems for people without passports or other identity card; Landlords will need to be able to distinguish a valid document from a forgery.
If a Landlord or Agent isn’t able to confirm a Tenant’s ‘right to rent’ then they must inform the home office. Lots to consider especially when certain Visas have an expiry date when again the responsibility falls on the Landlord or Agent to carry out a follow up check to ensure there is an extended right to rent.
The Home Office have published a very useful user guide which can be downloaded from their website here.
Like anything, if systems are in place it doesn’t have to be complicated. If a Landlord or Letting Agent has efficient record keeping, there needn’t be too much additional administration but it needs to be correct like everything else with
Letting and the Law.