Tom Lawrence, branch director of EweMove Harrogate, tells you what you need to know about Right to Rent in this latest blog.
Last year probably fell into the “Annus Horribilis” bracket for many landlords with the changes to letting legislation and then the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. There’s so much to think about these days and to add to that, from February 1st 2016 landlords effectively become an extension of the UK Border Agency!
Overview: From February 1st landlords will have to conduct the appropriate checks to ensure that their prospective tenants have the right to rent property in the UK. What does this mean practically?
There are 4 basic steps to conducting a Right To Rent check.
Step 1: Establish the adults who will live in the property as their only/main home.
Step 2: The landlord/managing agent must obtain original versions from the acceptable document list. The documents are categorised, in the most basic sense, according to whether the applicant has a time limited right to be in the UK or not.
Step 3: The documents must be checked in the presence of the holder of the documents.
Step 4: Make copies of the documents and retain them recording the date of the check.
The landlord/agent is not entitled to keep the original document provided by the prospective tenant. In conducting the check the Data Protection Act should be adhered to. Full details of the document lists and any other query relating to Right To Rent can be found in the: Code of Practice www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice
Landlords found to be in breach of the Right To Rent face a penalty of up to £3,000.
When should the checks be done? Landlords/agents should check all prospective occupiers’ right to rent before granting a residential tenancy agreement.
Progress and Review: February 1st is effectively the national rollout of Right To Rent that was trialled from December 2014 in parts of the West Midlands. The feedback from the initial trial is being reviewed by an expert consultative panel set up by the Government. Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: “Landlords with property in England need to prepare now for the new Right to Rent scheme to ensure they are ready for 1 February. “Ahead of the scheme’s roll out, we have been working 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”.
Tom Lawrence is branch director of EweMove Harrogate, offering residential property sales and lettings. EweMove covers Harrogate, Pateley Bridge and the surrounding villages, but help landlords and sellers in other areas too. www.ewemove.com/estate-agents/harrogate