Right to Rent - New laws from February

Right to Rent is as good as upon the Private Rental Sector, with landlords and agents facing possible criminal prosecutions or even jail sentences for noncompliance. Many bodies are urging the Government to delay the full implementation so that landlords can be given better guidance and training. There has already been a pilot in the West Midlands, running for just over 13 months, but there has been little feedback given to the public domain.

Under Right to Rent, checks must be made on all new tenants and without discrimination.

Landlords can hand the legal duty over to agents by written agreement. Here at Belvoir Aldershot we will take on this responsibility within our terms of business, giving landlords peace of mind.

The requirement to perform checks comes under the Immigration Act 2014, which imposes civil penalties. However, the newer Immigration Bill 2015 would bring in criminal penalties, including jail sentences.

It is feared that, with the potential scale of the task and the threat of criminal sanctions, landlords may simply discriminate against anyone they believe is not British, even if they have a legal right to live in the UK. It will be imperative to see an original of any document (and keep evidence of the sighting) that proves the applicant’s right to live in the UK and if they are on a visa, agents and landlords will need to follow up when that expires to see if an extension has been granted.

The new Housing and Planning Bill includes measures to tackle rogue landlords, which we have welcomed, but an unintended consequence of the Immigration Bill could be that more tenants are pushed towards the sorts of landlords who ask no questions and will rent poor quality accommodation to anyone who’ll pay the rent.

Before the checks are extended to all new lettings in England, it is vital that landlords are given training in how to carry them out – but there is very little time in which to do this as immigration checks can be very complex – If the tenant doesn’t have an EU passport they could have any one of three dozen or more types of immigration documents, or their paperwork could be with the Home Office.

If you are a landlord and have concerns over these new laws, call us on 01252 328384 for a free chat.