Immigration legislation means that all private landlords have to check that new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting a property, although this responsibility can be given to your letting agent as part of a written agreement.
The penalties for ignoring the new legislation are severe. For the first time an agent/landlord breaches the rules, a fine of £1,000 per illegal adult occupier will apply, rising to £3,000 per adult for repeat offenders.
Subject to any Brexit-related changes, the legislation currently requires landlords to carry out extensive checks to ensure a tenant has British, EEA or Swiss nationality. If the prospective tenant is of a different nationality, their visa or passport will have to be checked to see if they have a right to rent.
Here’s our quick guide to help you stay on the right side of the law:
1. Obtain original versions of acceptable documents which prove right to rent and there are certain time constraints on this. Acceptable documents can be found on the relevant Government website (details below)
2. Fully scrutinize these documents in the presence of the holder or via live video link.
3. Consider whether the number of occupiers planning to reside at the property is reasonable for its size and type.
4. Make and securely retain uneditable copies of all documents recording the date checked.
5. Carry out follow up checks on time-limited right to rent occupiers and report breaches to the Home Office.
6. Understand which rentals are excluded eg: local authority tenants, job-tied accommodation, certain types of student accommodation and 7+ year leases.
7. Before dismissing a prospective tenant, you must be careful that you cannot be accused of discrimination under the Equality Act.
This new legislation is an additional burden on landlords and once more points to the benefit of appointing a managing agent such as Bidmead Cook for complete peace of mind in an increasingly complex regulatory environment.
Further information and the government’s code of practice can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-rent-landlords-code-of-practice or please feel free to contact us directly.