Landlords, check your tenant’s Right to Rent

Landlords, check your tenant’s Right to Rent

The Government has announced the Right To Rent checks will apply to the whole of England from 1st February 2016.

As of 1st February 2016, all private landlords in England will have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property. These will be known as Right To Rent checks.

The new reform follows the Immigration Act 2014 (IA 2014), which received Royal Assent on 14th May 2014.

The Act prohibits private landlords of residential properties from allowing certain people to occupy and rent those properties based on the occupier’s immigration status.

Checks will need to be made on the status of any prospective tenants, and other authorised occupiers, to determine whether those parties have the right to occupy the premises before granting a tenancy.

A check may be undertaken and recorded up to 28 days before the tenancy agreement comes into effect.

What this means for you

The majority of prospective tenants will have an unlimited Right To Rent, such as:

  • British citizens
  • Those from European Economic Area countries
  • Swiss nationals
  • People who have the right of abode in the UK

Others will have a time-limited Right To Rent, and some will have no Right To Rent.

You must carry out the checks fairly and without prejudice or discrimination.

The best way to ensure this is to treat all prospective tenants fairly and equally and in the same way. There were reports during the pilot scheme that landlords were simply turning away all non-British prospective tenants.

Any landlords found letting to someone who doesn’t have the right to be in the UK, and can’t show that the Right To Rent checks have been made, could face a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant.

However, the average penalty paid by landlords in the pilot scheme was £782.

A landlord will not be liable for the fine if they rent accommodation to someone with a time-limited Right To Rent.

But they must conduct follow-up checks at the appropriate date and notify the Home Office if the follow-up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the Right To Rent.

Landlords who use agencies to manage or let their property may request their agents to carry out the checks for them. This agreement should be made in writing.

What are the first steps for checking a tenant’s Right To Rent?

  1. Check which adults will live at your property as their only or main home.
  2. See the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK.
  3. Check the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present. For example, check that the photographs look like the tenant, the dates of birth and names are the same on all of the documents, and look for obvious signs of damage or change.
  4. Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check. Keep these records safe for the duration of the tenancy and one year after.
  5. If the tenant’s permission to stay in the UK is time limited, the landlord or agent must make follow-up checks on the tenant either just before the expiry date or after 12 months, whichever is longer. The landlord/agent must make a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the Right to Rent.

What if you have time-limited tenants?

Landlords will not have to evict their tenants if they no longer have the Right To Rent.

However, a penalty will apply if:

  • The landlord/agent makes a repeat check and doesn’t contact and make a report to the Home Office saying that a tenant’s stay in the UK has run out.
  • The landlord/agent doesn’t make a repeat check on a tenant who has time- limited permission to stay in the UK.

Are there any exemptions to the scheme?

Yes, there are properties that will be exempt from the checks. These include:

  • Accommodation arranged by local authorities or relevant NHS bodies in response to a statutory duty
  • Care homes, hospitals and hospices
  • Social housing (including private properties let to social tenants)
  • Hostels and refuges that are managed by social landlords, voluntary organisations or charities
  • Tied accommodation
  • Student accommodation (halls of residence or properties provided for students directly by or nominated by a higher or further educational institution)
  • Long leases (right of occupation term of 7 years or more)

Need advice? Get in touch today

Please call Sarah Coates-Madden on 01482 324252.

Or email scm@gosschalks.co.uk.

Click here to find out more about our Property & Real Estate services.

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