Today (1 February 2016) the government’s Right to Rent scheme goes live across England.
The new rules mean that landlords need to carry out quick and simple checks on all new adult tenants to make sure they have the right to rent property in the country.
Right to Rent, which also applies to people who are subletting their property or taking in lodgers, was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014. Landlords who fail to carry out checks risk a potential penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant. The scheme has been in operation in the West Midlands since December 2014, and extending it across England is the next phase of a UK-wide roll-out.
The roll-out of Right to Rent has been informed by input from a panel of experts from trade bodies, local authorities, housing charities and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and backed up by stakeholder events with landlords and agents.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
We firmly believe in creating an immigration system which is fair to those here legally, but firm with those who try to break the rules. That is why Right to Rent is so important. The scheme builds on the Right to Work checks that employers have been making for some time, and we know that many landlords already carry out simple identity checks as a matter of good practice.
Over the past year, we have taken time to engage with the people who will be affected by the scheme, and carried out a thorough evaluation. The system we have designed is light-touch, and allows those with a legitimate right to be in the country to quickly and easily demonstrate their right to rent.
We are building on the work started in the 2014 Immigration Act through the new Immigration Bill, which contains additional powers to target unscrupulous landlords by introducing new criminal offences targeted at those who repeatedly fail to carry out Right to Rent checks.
Landlords simply need to check identity documents for all new tenants and take copies. A wide range of documents can be used for the checks, you can find more information in our user guide. The government has worked closely with housing and homelessness charities to design a document list which can accommodate different individual scenarios, including where people do not have traditional identity documents such as a passport.