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Right to Rent: New Immigration Laws for Landlords

Claire Parkinson

Did you know that landlords providing private rented accommodation in England will be asked to complete a Right to Rent check on all new tenants from 1 February 2016 (1 December 2014 in West Midlands) or face fines of up to £3,000 per tenant?

So, what exactly does this mean?

In 2014, the government launched a pilot scheme in the West Midlands to tackle illegal immigration and stop landlords from offering overcrowded accommodation.  After MPs backed the scheme as part of the Immigration Bill in late 2015, this is now set to be rolled out across England from February.

Under the Right to Rent scheme, landlords must check that all new tenants are lawfully residing in the UK on either a permanent, or temporary, basis. This also includes those who are subletting or taking in lodgers. Failure to perform the necessary checks, or knowingly beginning a tenancy agreement with a person who is not lawfully residing in the UK may result in fines of up to £3,000 per tenant.

Who must be checked?

 All new tenants must be checked. It is against the law to only check tenants who are believed to not be British citizens.

Before providing accommodation to someone as their only or main home, all tenants aged over 18 must be checked, even if:

·       They are not directly named on the tenancy agreement;

·       There is no tenancy agreement;

·       The tenancy agreement is not in writing.

For a property to be an only or main home, it must be:

·       The only property a person lives in, or;

·       The property that a person uses for personal, legal or family matters.

Who has a right to rent?

 Relevant nationals all have the right to rent, but must show evidence that they fall within one of the following groups:

·       British Citizens

·       EEA nationals

·       Swiss nationals

Individuals who do not fall within the above groups have a right to rent if they have leave to enter or remain in the UK, which means:

·       They have permission from the Home Office to be in the UK permanently, or;

·       They have permission from the Home Office to be in the UK for a limited period of time.

In cases of limited permission, landlords must ensure follow-up checks take place, usually when the individuals leave is due to expire.

Existing tenants who have an agreement that started before Right to Rent checks are introduced in their area, or have their tenancy renewed before this time, are not affected as long as:

·       The tenancy agreement is between the same people;

·       There is no break in the tenancy.

How are checks made?

Before any new tenancy begins landlords must:

·       Check which adults will live in the property as their only or main home;

·       See original documents that allow the tenants to live in the UK on either a permanent or temporary basis;

·       Check the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present;

·       Make and keep copies of the documents with a record of the date the check was made.

In instances where verification from the Home Office is needed, a Landlords Checking Service is available.

There is also a comprehensive User Guide on how to perform a Right to Rent check, including which documents are acceptable, printable checklists and letter templates for landlords.

Where can I find more information?

 The following links provide more information:

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