Monday 1 February marked the first day of the new Right to Right regime being rolled out across England following a trial period in the West Midlands, which means letting landlords and their agents now have legal obligations they must adhere to – or face a hefty penalty.
Right to Rent was introduced by the Immigration Act 2014 and requires landlords and letting agents allowing a tenancy in England to carry out identification checks on all adult occupiers before the tenancy starts. The government’s aims with the regime were to deter illegal residents and create a fairer and more immigration system, but argument has been raised over whether performing something as serious as immigration checks should be placed upon agent and landlord shoulders.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has claimed that over 90% of landlords haven’t received any official information about the regime, despite the fact they are being placed at risk of financial penalty for failure to comply. The RLA also surveyed 1,500 landlords and found that 72% of them don’t understand their legal responsibilities under the Right to Rent regime.
The head of immigration law at Simpson Millar, Sumita Gupta, has stated that the West Midlands trial scheme saw only nine penalties being dished out in a year (all to landlords, none to letting agents), begging the question, is it worth it?
Whatever your views, this regime is now the law, and both landlords and agents need to be aware of their responsibilities and how to ensure compliance.
What are the Right to Rent regime obligations?
The Right to Rent obligations rest on the landlord unless it has been agreed to transfer them to the letting agent instead. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- check which adults will live at your property and have it as their only home
- check the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK (make sure they haven’t expired, that the photos are of the tenant, and that dates of birth are consistent)
- check that those documents are real and, with the tenant present, ensure they belong to the tenant
- make good quality and unamendable copies of the documents and record the date you checked them
Click here find out what original documents you will need to check, depending on which country your tenant has come from.
What if you fail to abide by the obligations?
If you rent your property to someone who doesn’t have the right to rent a property in England, you can be fined up to £3,000.
How can you get help with document checking?
It’s understandable if you feel the burden of checking whether a potential tenant’s documents are genuine or not is too great to bear on your own. That’s why we’ve created a new service called Validate, which was created to handle the research and administrative sides of your Right to Rent duties. For example, we will verify VISAs, passports and identity documents on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about whether your tenant has the Right to Rent or not. We’ll simply let you know and keep copies of the documents for you.
Find out the details of this new service over here. We offer different levels of the service, and we can even fast track the checks if you’re really in need!