The UK government has confirmed that all landlords in England will have to check new tenants have the right to live in the UK before renting out their listing from February next year.
It means that the pilot study on immigration checks which has been ongoing in the West Midlands will now be rolled out across England from February and in other parts of the country at a date yet to be announced.
Under the new rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s Right to Rent will face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.
According to Immigration Minister James Brokenshire right to rent checks are quick and simple. ‘Many responsible landlords already do them as a matter of routine. We are providing landlords with all the advice and support they need before the checks go live on 01 February 2016,’ he said.
He explained that the rules are part of the Immigration Act 2014 which introduced measures to reform the immigration system. ‘Right to rent is about deterring those who are illegally resident from remaining in the UK. Those with a legitimate right to be here will be able to prove this easily and will not be adversely affected,’ he added.
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the National Landlords Association said that the policy has been causing great concern among landlords so a date for the roll out is welcome.
‘The Home Office’s evaluation of the scheme so far seems to show that landlords’ experience of carrying out right to rent checks is not as bad as the perception of the problems they will cause,’ he pointed out.
‘However, with just over three months to go it’s vital landlords familiarise themselves with what they will need to do to properly check their tenants and steer clear of breaking the law come February, especially because those who fail to do so could wind up in jail,’ he added.
It is also hoped that the new rules that anyone renting a listing in the UK has to see and make a copy of a passport or residence permit will act as a deterrent to rogue landlords who rent substandard listings and to more people that the building can adequately house.
‘Hopefully this will assist with the regulation of rental listing standards and help clamp down on some of the landlords who believe it is acceptable to rent sub-standard listings. If this happens, the industry will be more regulated for both landlords and tenants and, in turn, a better environment for all,’ said Adam Male, found of online estate agent Urban.
‘It is also good news that any landlords who are not making the appropriate checks on immigration status will now face a penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be renting out a listing to someone who is in the UK illegally,’ he pointed out.
‘Anyone found to be abusing the system should be punished, it is the only way we, as a sector, will be able to clean up the letting industry and to help put pressure on rogue landlords and agencies. In order for the scheme to be successful, I believe that it is hugely important that the changes are communicated properly, both to landlords and tenants,’ he added.
The Government says that the scheme has been designed to make it straightforward for people to show evidence of their right to rent and a range of commonly available documents can be used, including a UK passport, a European Economic Area passport or identity card, a permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain, a Home Office immigration status document and a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.
The checks should be carried out on all new tenants and are backed up by codes of practice, including guidance on avoiding unlawful discrimination, which was drawn up with the assistance of the Human Rights Commission.
Landlords need to check which adult tenants will live in the listing as their only or main home and ask tenants for the original documents that show they have the right to be in the UK.
They then need to check the documents are valid with the tenant present, make and keep copies of the documents and record the date the check was made. If a potential tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can conduct a check on that person’s ‘right to rent’ via the Landlords’ Checking Service.
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Source: Property News Spain