Landlords in England are being reminded that there is less than a month to go before ‘right to rent’ rules go live.
The new law means that from 1 February 2016, landlords with property in England will have to carry out quick and simple checks to ensure potential tenants have the right to rent property in the UK.
From the week commencing 4 January, landlords can start to carry out right to rent checks as these can be done from 28 days before the start of a tenancy agreement.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
Landlords with property in England need to prepare now for the new right to rent rules to ensure they are ready for 1 February.
Ahead of the scheme’s roll out, we have been working very closely with an expert panel to make sure their feedback is taken on board and to design a scheme that is as simple and light touch as possible. Many responsible landlords have already been undertaking similar checks - these are straightforward and do not require any specialist knowledge.
Right to rent is part of the government’s wider reforms to the immigration system to make it stronger, fairer and more effective. Those with a legitimate right to be here will be able to prove this easily and will not be adversely affected. The scheme is about deterring those without the right to live, work or study in the UK from staying here indefinitely.
Right to rent was first introduced in parts of the West Midlands in December 2014 and the extension to England is the next phase of a UK Wide roll out. Landlords, and anyone who sublets or takes in lodgers, could face a financial penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be letting property to someone who has no right to stay in the UK.
The government has been working with an expert consultative panel, which includes trade bodies, local authorities and charities, to listen to feedback from the first phase of the scheme. The panel has advised on an updated landlords code of practice which includes changes to the acceptable document list to make it even simpler to conduct a check.
The panel includes Stephen Gabriel, Strategic Manager, Homes and Communities, from Sandwell Council. He said:
Sandwell, along with other West Midlands local authorities, had a key role during the first phase of right to rent as we already work closely with landlords across the borough. We have been ideally placed to listen to their feedback and provide guidance as this new piece of legislation is phased in.
In October 2015 we held our third annual landlord conference with over 400 West Midlands private landlords, estate and letting agents in attendance. right to rent was high on the agenda and people were keen to share their experiences of getting up to speed with the new rules. We were pleased to hear that many landlords felt carrying out checks was good practice, and that the new system was simple and easy to follow.
There is an online checking tool available on GOV.UK which landlords can use to guide them through the process, and also to request a check on anyone who has an outstanding case with the Home Office.
Right to rent checks should be carried out on all adult tenants for new tenancy agreements in England from 1 February 2016. The scheme is backed up by codes of practice which include guidance on avoiding unlawful discrimination drawn up with the assistance of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.