New Immigration Legislation Dictates That Landlords Can Only
Let To Tenants Who Have The Right To Rent
As of today, 1st December 2014, new legislation has come into force in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. The requirement will come in to force in those areas dictating that all UK private rented sector landlords must only let properties to immigrants that have the right to rent property in the UK and the landlords of the West Midlands are the legislative guinea pigs.
The introduction of the Right To Rent law has particular importance to UK PRS landlords who house foreign nationals or operate Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s or multi-let properties) and those landlords using Rent 2 Rent (R2R) strategies.
Under the Immigration Bill (2014) private rented sector landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of all potential tenants, with fines of up to £3000 (GBP) for landlords who fail to conduct this procedure. Employers will also face “more substantial” fines for employing illegal immigrants.The Right To Rent legislation mean that landlords are effectively becoming unpaid members of the UK Border Agency and the measures are included in the amended Immigration Bill (2014), which also limits the ability of European migrants to claim benefits and ensure that they have the right to reside in the UK on the basis of family commitments. Temporary migrants will also be charged for using the NHS and only those who have lived in an area for at least two years will qualify for social housing.
Local Authorities are exempted (including discharge of homeless duty via private rented sector), as are other social landlords (where they have already been required to consider a prospective tenant’s immigration status before allocating them accommodation) as are hostels and refuges which are managed by social landlords, voluntary organisations or charities, or which are not operated on a commercial basis and whose operating costs are provided either wholly or in part by a Government department or agency or a local authority.
The Right To Rent legislation is being trialled in selected areas of the West Midlands region of the UK with the legislation being rolled out across the rest of the UK during 2015, making it the landlords responsibility to seek copies of tenant’s passports, Home Office declarations and appropriate visas. However, many private rented sector (PRS) landlords remain unsure about how exactly they are supposed to properly establish the authenticity of the information provided by prospective tenants, an issue that could become much clearer after today’s launch.
The Home Office had previously released their tenancy Right To Rent guide which was announced as “A Work in Progress”, entitled “Code Of Practice On Illegal Immigrants And Private Rented Accommodation”, for all UK private rented sector landlords and letting and property management agents, but this has since been replaced with a 5 page PDF as a simplified guyide for landlords and letting agents and can be viewed here
The 31 page guide attempted to make clear how simple the legislation will be and how simple the tenant immigration checking process is, however the language of the document is typically legislative in nature and did not make for easy reading, as the example passage copied from the original publication shows below:
Where the initial right to rent checks are satisfied with a document from List B, or where the Landlords Checking Service has provided a “yes” response to a request for a right to rent check, a landlord establishes a time-limited statutory excuse.
This time-limited statutory excuse lasts either for 12 months or until expiry of the person’s permission to be in the UK or the validity of their document which evidences their right to be in the UK, whichever is later.
Follow-up checks should be undertaken before this time-limited statutory excuse expires, in order to maintain a statutory excuse.
How can landlords check if they are not sure about the legality of a tenant’s right to rent?
When an individual cannot provide the landlord with any of the documents from List A or List B, but claims to have an ongoing immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, or that their documents are with the Home Office, or they have been granted a right to rent on a discretionary basis, then the landlord can request a right to rent check from the Home Office’s Landlords Checking Service using an online form.
Where a landlord does not have access to the internet, a request can be made by telephone.
The Landlords Checking Service will respond to the landlord with a clear “yes” or “no” response within 2 working days.
In order for the landlord to request a check, the prospective tenant applicant must provide the landlord with a Home Office reference number. This can be, for example,
- An application or appeal number,
- Application registration card (ARC) number,
- Certificate of application number issued to a family member of a national of an EEA country or Switzerland,
- Case number, etc.
The landlord must include this information when requesting a right to rent check, to receive the “yes” or “no” response.
The Immigration Bill also contains provisions to ensure human rights laws giving people the right to stay in the country because of family connections are not abused by criminals. Courts will be ordered to balance the seriousness of the crime committed against the right to remain in the UK.
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