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Landlord and Tenant Right to Rent Checks

UK Home Office department announces new rules for renting out a room to tenants in England. Landlords must now follow the 'Right to Rent' immigration checks.

RIGHT TO RENT: The new Right to Rent checks got introduced for private landlords.

The regulations are being enforced from the 1st of February 2016.

The laws apply to all private landlords and those sub-letting or taking in lodgers.

They will need to check whether prospective renters have the legal right to be residing in the United Kingdom.

That check must take place before renting out a room or a property.

Penalties up to £3,000

Around half of all landlords are unaware of the official start date of the rules’ change. Even so, those who fail to check a potential tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ face financial penalties up to £3,000 per tenant.

The ‘Right to Rent’ was first introduced in the Immigration Act 2014. James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister at the time, declared the first phase. That took place in parts of the West Midlands.

A panel of experts worked in conjunction with the government. They included the Equality and Human Rights Commission and representatives of landlords and letting agents. Local authorities and the homelessness charity ‘Crisis’ also joined the panel.

Deterring Illegal Workers and Residents

The next stage of the scheme’s national rollout continues governmental reforms. The main aim is to build a fairer and more effective immigration system.

Many responsible landlords already carry out the checks. They should be quick and simple tenant eligibility checks done as a matter of routine. The new lessee examination is about deterring illegal workers and residents. Proving an individual’s legitimate right to remain in the country will be easy to do. They will not be ‘adversely’ affected.

The Bill provides new measures which make it easier for landlords to evict illegal tenants. A new criminal offence also targets unscrupulous landlords. There are penalties for repeatedly failing to carry out right to rent investigations.

Landlords should check the identity documents for all new inhabitants and take photocopies. The occupant checks get backed up by codes of practice. They include guidance on avoiding unlawful discrimination. That part got drawn up with the assistance of the Human Rights Commission.

Landlords can conduct the check via the Landlords Checking Service. That system applies to a potential tenant with an outstanding immigration application or an appeal with the Home Office.

Landlords Unaware of Rule Start Date

Around 50% of UK landlords are ill-prepared and unaware of the ‘Right to Rent’ legislation. They must follow the new rules from its enforcement date of February 2016.

Research from the online estate agent Urban shows that one in five believed they had until April 2017 to prepare for the changes. There were some who believed they were fine until 2018.

The online survey also found that only one in ten landlords actually provide the correct information to tenants at the start of a lease.

More disturbing was the fact that around 90% were unable to identify the characteristics of a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO).

A significant number were putting themselves at serious financial risk. The main failure was not providing a valid contact address on tenancy agreements. This inaction could see contracts deemed as ‘null and void’.

The cofounder of Urban estate agent declared:

“There has been an influx of new legislation relating to the rental market made in recent years. We know that UK landlords are struggling to keep on top of these changes.

Despite knowing many of the basics, many find it difficult to navigate the minefield of changing renting rights and wrongs. This is particularly so for accidental landlords.”

Landlords Abreast of Rental Fundamentals

There was a lack of understanding in many areas, particularly the new rulings. But, the vast majority of landlords were abreast of most other property rental fundamentals and legal procedures.

  • 95% of landlords correctly identified their gas safety responsibilities.
  • 77% were aware of the need for a current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
  • 76% also knew the need for a smoke alarm on every floor.
  • 7% actually installed a smoke alarm in every room.
The Landlord Knowledge League Table

They produced a survey map ranking the most knowledgeable regions around the United Kingdom. It showed some surprising results. It suggested that the most knowledgeable landlords let property in Southampton.

Whereas, those who were ‘grossly’ unaware of many key landlord responsibilities were in fact based in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

New landlord regulations, such as the ‘Right to Rent’ inclusion, have the potential to reduce and stop back door lettings. The hope is for a better environment for all residents in the UK. Nonetheless, to clean up the industry the scheme needs communicating to landlords properly.


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Landlord and Tenant Right to Rent Immigration Checks introduced in England