Right to rent checks starting soon

The Right to Rent scheme is likely to go live nationally by next April, and possibly much sooner. The new government scheme requires landlords or their agents to check the immigration status of tenants and evict any tenant who does not have right to live in the UK.
There could be a phased roll-out across England from this autumn onwards. Landlords and their agents who do not comply face fines or prison sentences of up to five years.

The checks landlords will have to make are the same as those employers have to make before hiring staff, but there are fears it will create increased paperwork for part-time landlords. Would-be tenants will have to produce evidence from a checklist of documents that they have permission to be in the UK, and landlords will have to take a copy for their records.
Valid documents include a British passport, or a combination of birth certificate, national insurance number and driving licence, naturalisation certificate or right of abode certificate. Landlords will have to check the papers of all adults who will be living in the property.

In the case of those immigrants who previously had the right to rent but lose their right to remain in the UK then the eviction will be immediate and will not involve having to go through court proceedings. Eviction would follow the issuing of a notice by the Home Office when an asylum application fails, confirming that the tenant no longer has the right to rent.

The Government is expected to enact new criminal offences as early as next month. Normally, measures enacted in September come into force the following April. Greg Clark, the communities’ secretary, said the legislation will also create a blacklist of persistent rogue landlords and letting agents to allow councils to know where to concentrate their enforcement action. “We are determined to crack down on rogue landlords,” said Clark.

There will also be measures to prevent the letting out of sub-standard properties. The new measures have already caused controversy with the new clampdown raising fears that landlords and agents will simply discriminate against certain types of prospective tenants including those with a right to live in the UK. The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants are concerned that British people who have foreign accents may find it difficult to find somewhere to rent.

Lawyer and policy director of the Residential Landlords Association David Smith told the BBC’s World at One that there was evidence that landlords in a pilot in the West Midlands were reluctant to let their properties to anyone without a valid passport. He said: “This means that huge segments of the population, including genuine UK nationals who do not have passports are being excluded.” There are also accusations that the Government is guilty of a knee-jerk reaction to the Calais crisis.

However, David Cox, managing director of ARLA, said: “ARLA believes that the measures announced by the Government today are a good first step and we welcome the proposals in principle. The plans will help to weed out the minority of rogue landlords who exploit vulnerable immigrants for their own financial gain and, with the introduction of a new five year imprisonment penalty, will help to deter other such unscrupulous individuals from entering the private rented sector." The proposals also build upon the Right to Rent checks as imposed by the Immigration Act 2014.

Parkinson Property

19th August 2015


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