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Do your tenants have Right to Rent?

At the moment, almost every month seems to bring new legislation for landlords. February saw the introduction of the new Right to Rent scheme that brings a series of obligations to check the immigration status of new tenants.

Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014 demands that private landlords must not let their properties to those who do not have the right to rent in the UK. After a series of pilots in a number of areas, the law now applies across England to all residential tenancy agreements that began after 1st February 2016. Landlords who are discovered letting to a tenant without the right to rent or who cannot show proof of carrying out the checks, risk facing a penalty of up to £3000.

Checks need to be made on the status of any prospective tenants, and other authorised occupiers, to determine whether those parties have the right to occupy the premises before granting a tenancy. A check can be undertaken and recorded up to 28 days before a tenancy agreement comes into effect.

Those who are British Citizens, from European Economic Area countries, Swiss nationals and people who have the right of abode in the UK will have unlimited right to rent. Others will have a time-limited Right To Rent, and some will have no Right To Rent. However, it is essential that all checks are carried out fairly and without prejudice or discrimination. The pilot found that the introduction of the checks had led to some landlords only checking non-British citizens and industry commentators warn that these restrictive practices could lead to exclusion and discrimination against members of society who are already vulnerable, including asylum seekers and the homeless.

What are the first steps for checking a tenant’s Right To Rent?

Check which adults will live at your property as their only or main home.

See the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK.

Check the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present. For example, check that the photographs look like the tenant, the dates of birth and names are the same on all the documents, and look for obvious signs of damage or change.

Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.

Retain these records safe for the duration of the tenancy and one year after.

If the tenant’s permission to stay in the UK is time limited, the landlord or agent must make follow-up checks on the tenant either just before the expiry date or after 12 months, whichever is longer. The landlord/agent must make a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks indicate that an occupier no longer has the Right to Rent.

Landlords will not have to evict their tenants if they no longer have the Right To Rent. However, a penalty will apply if:

  • The landlord/agent makes a repeat check and does not contact and make a report to the Home Office saying that a tenant’s stay in the UK has run out.
  • The landlord/agent doesn’t make a repeat check on a tenant who has time- limited permission to stay in the UK.

 

There are some exemptions from the scheme including:

  • Accommodation arranged by local authorities or relevant NHS bodies in response to a statutory duty
  • Care homes, hospitals and hospices
  • Social housing (including private properties let to social tenants)
  • Hostels and refuges that are managed by social landlords, voluntary organisations or charities
  • Tied accommodation
  • Student accommodation (halls of residence or properties provided for students directly by or nominated by a higher or further educational institution)
  • Long leases (right of occupation term of 7 years or more)

 

Leave it to us…

C&D Properties offers a safe and trusted solution to provide you with the confidence that detailed checks have been completed and retained on your tenant. This is offered as part of your managed service and is also offered as an additional element to our find-only service to provide you with complete peace of mind. For more information, email enquiries@cdproperties.co.uk call 0151 236 6611 or come on in to 63-67 Tithebarn Street, Liverpool, L2 2EN.

Posted by
Ian Murray
on 3rd March 2016