The vast majority of landlords have not received any information from the Government about the new Right to Rent scheme which was rolled out across England this week, new research shows.
From Monday 1st February 2016 it became compulsory for all private landlords in England to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property.
Under the new rules, landlords, including those who sub-let or take in lodgers, who fail to check a potential tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ will face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.
But Right to Rent, which was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014 as part of the Government’s reforms ‘to build a fairer and more effective immigration system’, has been criticised after it was revealed that most landlords are still not prepared for the new legislation.
“There has been an influx of new legislation relating to the rental market made in recent years and 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 and this is particularly so for accidental landlords,” said Adam Male (left), Co-Founder, Urban.
A new survey from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) reveals that 90 per cent of landlords have received no information from the Government about the new Right to Rent scheme, the first phase of which was launched in parts of the West Midlands in December, while almost three quarters of the 1,500 landlords surveyed did not know what the rules obliged them to do.
“Outsourcing border patrol to landlords is like asking passengers to drive trains – a foolish and senseless example of delegation,” said Matt Hutchinson, Director of flatshare site, SpareRoom.co.uk.
He added, “This could lead to cut and dry examples of discrimination as landlords look for ways to simplify the vetting process – which also requires follow up checks – by reconsidering who they are inclined to let to.”
Despite the opposition, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire insists that Right to Rent checks are “quick and simple” and many responsible landlords already do them as a matter of routine.
He commented, “Right to Rent is about deterring those who are illegally resident from remaining in the UK. Those with a legitimate right to be here will be able to prove this easily and will not be adversely affected.
“Under Right to Rent, landlords should check identity documents for all new tenants and take copies. The scheme has been designed to make it straightforward for people to give evidence of their right to rent and a range of commonly available documents can be used.”
ARLA has provided the following top tips for letting agents to help its Right to Rent implementation.
- All tenancies in England must now be compliant with the new Right to Rent rules
- Referencing agents cannot do the legal checks themselves – all they can do it check the documents are genuine. All identification checks need be to be done by the letting agent
- Remember it’s not just tenants which need to be checked, it’s all adult occupiers in the property
- Make sure you’ve followed the new code of practice carefully, to ensure you’ve taken and checked the correct documents
- Finally, as a letting agent, you should assume liability for all Right to Rent checks. It’s worth putting a clause in your terms of business, to state that as well as undertaking referencing, you will also carry out the Right to Rent checks
David Cox at ARLA commented, “We have been working closely with our members to remind them that all agents in England will be legally obliged to comply with the scheme. We’ve also worked closely with the Home Office and Immigration Minister during the development of the initiative, and will continue during its implementation.”