Mon 03 Nov 2014 View all news articles

Most landlords still unaware of right to rent legislation

As of December 1st the UK government will introduce legislation that will require all landlords to conduct immigration status checks on all prospective tenants to ensure that they have the right to rent in the UK.

However a recent survey conducted by  has found that 80% of landlords have never heard of the legislation, whilst the landlords who were aware of the legislation, do not know exactly when it would be coming into effect.

The scheme which will come into force in the Local Authority areas of Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton to begin with, will be re-evaluated before a national roll-out. The scheme will affect landlords and anyone with accommodation to rent in these areas, even if they live elsewhere.

The checks will only apply to new tenancies from the date of implementation, so there is no requirement to check the immigration status of existing tenants. Checks will need to be made on all adults aged 18 or over who are using the property as their only or main residence.

When asked if they plan on implementing the checks when renting out their properties, a shocking 30% of landlords stated that they did not intend on complying with the new legislation, whilst a combined total of 75% were either unsure or assumed there would be no penalty for non-compliance. 

All landlords must be fully aware that the new provisions will include a civil penalty scheme, to penalise rogue landlords who rent to illegal migrants and often exploit vulnerable individuals. The penalties will be based on a sliding scale with heavier fines for those who persistently fail to carry out the right to rent checks, and those who rent to multiple illegal migrants.

Maya Harruna, spokesperson states: "It's  unfortunate to see that not many landlords are aware of the Right to Rent legislation, especially since it is due to launch shortly. Considering the harsh financial penalties, it is essential that homeowners are made fully aware of all aspects and can confirm if the new rules apply to them or not."

According to the Home Office there are a number of exemptions, and they include:
Any accommodation provided by a local authority or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive where they are under a statutory duty to do so (including where the tenant is placed into the private rented sector);

- Hostels and refuges;
- Tied accommodation (provided by an employer); and
- Halls of residence for students, any accommodation provided for students directly by a higher educational institution, or tenancy agreements in private residential accommodation where a higher educational institute has nominated a student for accommodation.

In most cases, landlords will be able to complete the checks without contacting the Home Office by simply requesting and copying original documents, such as a passport, which show that the individual has the right to rent in the UK. A British or EEA national can satisfy the check, for example, by showing a passport, or a full birth certificate and driving licence. 

For the majority of migrants who are here lawfully, the checks are equally simple and can be satisfied, for example, with a biometric residence permit. Landlords will need to photocopy and retain these documents as evidence that the check has been carried out and retain these copies for a year after the tenancy ends.

Source: Property Reporter

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