Right to Rent – New landlord responsibilities

As of today, February 1st 2016, Landlords and Agencies alike have a new legal duty, and are officially responsible to carry out “Right to Rent” checks on tenants or risk a financial penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant.

Since 90% of landlords haven’t had any information given to them by the Government, and many landlords don’t understand their legal obligations, the majority of them are at risk of being penalised if they are not in compliance with these new measures.

Right to Rent ensures that all prospective tenants and occupants in private rented properties have a right to rent a property in the UK. Checks must be made on the immigration status of the tenant and all adults seeking to live in the household.

The roll out of “Right to Rent” has been informed by input from a panel of experts from trade bodies, local authorities, and housing charities and the Equality and Human Rights Commission and backed up by stakeholder events with landlords and agents.

The Home Office has provided helpful information that can be found online called Right to Rent Document Checks: a User Guide. A printable checklist is contained within the guide and also has an FAQ section.

A “Right to Rent” check consists of obtaining a tenant’s original acceptable documents and checking them while the tenant is present, making a copy and keeping it on file, and recording the date of the check. If this is done, the landlord has a statutory excuse against a penalty for letting to an illegal migrant.

Landlords need to check identity documents for all new tenants and take copies. A wide range of documents can be used for the checks, and the Government has worked closely with housing and homelessness charities to design a document list which can accommodate different individual circumstances. This includes where people do not have traditional identity documents such as a passport.

In general, depending on the ID, a check involves assuring the photo is a true likeness of the holder and the date of birth is plausible and consistent with other documents. The identification document must appear to be in good condition and not tampered with. The name should be verified that it is the same on all documents, if not, supporting documents that explain the difference should also be copied. The nationality, if not from UK, should be either Swiss or from a member state of the European Economic Area. Finally, a confirmation of the expiry date of the document is needed to assure validity, although, it can still be accepted if it has lapsed. Other supporting documents such as letters should be dated and be within 3 months of the check.

The main problem with these checks is that the landlords do not know how to identify authentic identification as they are not familiar with the different document types of the 31 countries other than the UK that have a right to abode in the UK. The good news is landlords can have an agent carry out the checks for them if there is a written agreement, which relieves them of the burden and risk of penalty.

If you have any queries please contact a member of our qualified staff for more details.