With the new Right to Rent Scheme launched on 1st February 2016, Landlords are now required by law to check any potential immigration status before granting a tenancy. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to £3000.
What is the Right to Rent Scheme?
Created as part of the immigration act 2014, the Right to Rent Scheme is designed to deter those who are illegally residing within the UK. Simply put – people that are legally allowed to reside within the UK are able to rent property and those that are not should not be granted tenancy.
How does the right to rent scheme affect me as a landlord?
Any landlord, agent or householder who is letting, subletting private rented accommodation or taking in a lodger on or after the 1st February 2016, is responsible for carrying out a number of checks to ensure that any potential tenant has the right to live within the UK.
Who should the checks be carried out on?
The right to rent checks must be carried out for any potential tenant over the age of 18 that will be using the property as their only or main home. The checks will apply even to those that will be living in the property that are not named on the tenancy agreement.
How and what checks should I carry out?
- Before the start of a new tenancy, you must make checks for tenants aged 18 and over.
- 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 that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present.
- Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.
To find out more on which documents to check click here to visit the government’s right to rent document check user guide.
Will I need to carry out checks for existing tenants?
Tenants already in occupancy prior to the launch of the Right to Rent Scheme do not require right to rent checks. Where the start of a tenancy pre-dates the scheme being introduced and it is renewed between the same parties and at the same property without a break, there is no requirement to conduct checks.
Who carries out the checks if I have appointed an agent to manage my property?
If you have appointed an agent to let out and manage your property, then the responsibility will fall on them to carry out all checks on potential tenants. If however your agent establishes that a potential tenant does not meet the criteria of the checks or does not have the right to rent and you as the landlord decide to authorise the tenancy regardless, then you become liable for any penalty enforced.
What are the implications for failure to check the necessary documents or letting your property to someone that does not have the right to rent?
Failure to carry out right to rent checks could result in a breach of the law and fines of up to £3000. Landlords will receive a referral notice to advise them that they are under investigation and will be given the opportunity to provide evidence of any checks that have been carried out. Once the case has been reviewed a No Action Notice or a Civil Penalty Notice will be served.
What is a Civil Penalty Notice?
A Civil Penalty is the fine you will be expected to pay if you are found in breach of the law. The amount you will be liable to pay will depend on the type of accommodation and if you have received a penalty previously.
Fine amount for lodgers in private accommodation = £80 1st penalty or £500 per further penalty
Fine amount for tenants in rented accommodation = £1,000 1st penalty or £3000 per further penalty
Failure to pay a penalty fine issued could result in further enforcement action taken.
If you require further information on the Right to Rent Scheme and how it might affect you as a landlord or are interested in any of our property services, our experienced team are on hand to provide the most up to date expert advice and guidance.