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Rent Control Argument Rages On

Rent Control Argument Rages On

Most Tenants Would Support Rent Controls

The majority of tenants renting property in the UK’s private rented sector (PRS) would support the introduction of rent controls if they were introduced according to data gathered by a Manchester based letting agent.

The research was conducted by Geo Property Lettings through a number of industry related websites and social media profiles over a 3 month period. The survey discovered that 77% of tenants in the UK private rented sector would support the introduction of rent controls should the Government decide to implement such a scheme. Only 5% of tenants were opposed to the introduction of rent control whilst 18% of tenants expressed no opinion either way.

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RLA find errors in wording of proposed deregulation act

RLA find errors in wording of proposed deregulation act

RLA Find Serious Drafting Error In Rented Housing Regulations Of Proposed Deregulation Bill

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have called on the Government to delay the implementation of the proposed Deregulation Act after they found errors in the wording of the document that would expose private rental sector landlords to a legal minefield.

The RLA published the following on their newshub

A major drafting error in Government regulations affecting the private rented sector risks undermining confidence in new legislation being applied to the sector.

The Deregulation Act, passed prior to the General Election, provides Ministers with the power to introduce a new standard form for landlords to complete and provide to a tenant when seeking to regain possession of a property on a no fault basis, known as a Section 21 notice.

With the form due to become legally binding from the 1st October, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has written to the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, to seek a delay following the revelation of a serious drafting error.

The standard form, as currently drafted, notes that where a fixed term tenancy ends and then turns into a rolling or periodic tenancy the Section 21 notice would only be valid for four months from the date that it is served on the tenant*.

This contradicts the Deregulation Act, which makes clear that the required period to regain possession of a property where a tenancy is a rolling or periodic tenancy, should instead be four months from the date the Section 21 notice expires**.

Despite having engaged thoroughly with the Government on its proposals, the final version of the standard form, published last week, had not been shown to the RLA.

The RLA is warning that the drafting exposes landlords to a legal minefield, and is calling for the implementation of the plans to be delayed to give more time to get them right.

RLA policy director, David Smith, said “The RLA continues to share the Government’s ambitions to ensure that all landlords understand and properly implement their legal responsibilities and obligations. In light of the major changes being introduced for the sector it is vital that all documents published by the Government are clearly understood. This drafting error will serve only to dent the confidence of landlords in the legislation. Whilst Ministers are understandably eager not to let these new measures drift, it would make more sense not to rush their implementation than face the potential legal difficulties that will now arise for landlords.”

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Right To Rent Immigration Checks Making PRS Landlords Over Cautious

Right To Rent Immigration Checks Making PRS Landlords Over Cautious

Lawful Tenants Refused Rental Properties
Because Of Right To Rent Immigration Checks

Right to Rent immigration checks could cause more UK private rented sector (PRS) landlords to refuse tenancy applications from lawful tenants because they are over cautious about letting to tenants with foreign accents and names or have unfamiliar identity documents.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, (RLA), the complexity of the Government’s plans to turn landlords into unpaid Border Agency staff could see lawful tenants being refused housing.

The warning comes as new research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) indicates the difficulties caused by the Government’s Right to Rent scheme, originally piloted in the West Midlands, concluding that UK PRS landlords Right to Rent checks have resulted in discrimination against tenants who appear “foreign”.

The JCWI research discovered that:

  • 42% of landlords were less likely to consider tenant applications from someone who did not have a British passport,
  • 27% of landlords were reluctant to engage with tenancy applications from people with foreign accents or names

Under the new immigration bill, PRS landlords are set to be legally responsible for checking the immigration status of tenants. Following the pilot scheme in the West Midlands, the Government recently announced that the immigration checks by landlords would be expanded nationwide, with landlords facing up to five years in prison for failure to undertake the Right to Rent checks.

Residential Landlords Association policy director, David Smith, said: “Whilst the RLA opposes discrimination against tenants because of their race or nationality, the Government’s plans are causing confusion and anxiety for many landlords. If the Government expect landlords to act as border police it should provide the training and material needed to give them the confidence to carry out the checks required of them. In the absence of such support, today’s research sadly shows the inevitable consequences of the policy which the RLA has long voiced concerns about. Faced with considerable sanctions, landlords will inevitably play it safe where a tenant’s identity documents are either unclear or simply not known to them. It is concerning that the Government remains committed to rolling out the Right to Rent policy nationwide without first publishing its assessment of the impact it has had in its own pilot area. Ministers should halt plans to proceed with its rollout to allow time for proper scrutiny and consideration of the impact it is likely to have.”

The research by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants comes before the publication of the Home Office’s own assessment of the Right to Rent pilot scheme detailing its level of effectiveness.

There seems to be a huge communication breakdown somewhere, we as landlords are now unpaid members of the UK Border Agency, like it or not, we mustn’t discriminate against any tenant applicant because it is an “ism” and can be punished by imprisonment and a large fine, however, if we house someone in need, we leave ourselves open to prosecution and a large fine. If we act in a professional manner, we are accused of not caring, but if we have too much contact with tenants we are seen as overbearing and interfering. If we spend money on properties we are seen as rich money grabbers that are open to exploitation and if we don’t spend vast amounts to correct damage caused by tenant lifestyles as and when tenants demand then we are called tight and heartless. Homeless charities want the UK PRS closed down, the Government want as much of our profits as they can get their hands on and the media think we are all descendants of Rachman and Rigsby – How is the system supposed to work?

Even MP's Think Landlord Immigration Checks Are Unworkable

Even MP’s Think Landlord Immigration Checks Are Unworkable

MP’s Question Immigration Checks By Landlords

The Governments plan to make private rented sector (PRS) and social housing landlords legally responsible for checking the immigration status of all tenant applicants has raised questions on the policy from MP’s.

The proposal to make landlords perform immigration checks on tenants and prosecute those who fail to comply has caused outrage among UK PRS landlords, who would be expected to be doing the UK Border Agency’s work without payment.

Following the outline of the new proposals, Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, a former housing minister, told the House of Commons during a lively debate on the Queens speech that landlords performing immigration checks on tenants would be unworkable, stating that: “The Government cannot tell us how their policy will be enforced, because they do not know who the landlords are and they will not have a statutory register.”

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Landlords expected to do UK border agency's job for them

Landlords expected to do UK border agency’s job for them

Private landlords are set to become an extra line in UK Border Control as they will be legally responsible for ensuring that they only let rental properties to people allowed to be in the UK under immigration laws announced in the Queen’s Speech.

This means that Private Rental Sector (PRS) and social housing landlords will have a responsibility to make sure their tenants are in the country legally

Over 3 million buy-to-let landlords are rental property owners in the UK private sector and will be responsible for checking the immigration status of all potential tenants, with fines running into thousands of pounds for those breaking the law.

Employers will also face more substantial fines for employing on illegal immigrants.

It appears that UK landlords and employers are expected to police the immigration system as unpaid members of the UK Border Agency.

Landlords are being given additional responsibility with no recompense other than the threat of heavy fines for failure to comply. Why are we expected to do the UK Border Agency’s job for them when they are paid handsomely for failing to do the job they are employed by the Government to do?

Does this mean that Landlords will be given a financial incentive to turn informant?

I don’t think so…

The new measures are included in an amended Immigration Bill will also limit the ability of European migrants to claim UK state benefits and ensure that the right to residence in the UK on the basis of family commitments is not abused by criminal elements. The UK judicial system will be expected to balance the nature and seriousness of the crime committed against the right to remain resident in the UK.

Temporary migrants will be charged for use of NHS services and only those who have lived in an area for at least two years will qualify for social housing. Regulations will also be amended to ensure that European immigrants cannot claim benefits for more than six months if they do not actively seek legal employment and show they have a genuine chance of obtaining work.

The legislation has been drawn up as the Coalition Government struggles to contain the electoral threat posed by the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which has hard-line immigration policies.

The details of how the measures will be implemented will be set out later in the year. The plans will be the subject of a formal consultation in the coming months.

Ministers expect the legal requirements on landlords will affect those letting rooms in houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) properties. However, the measure will be universal and it will be the responsibility of all landlords to seek copies of passports and appropriate visas.

It is unclear how landlords are supposed to verify the authenticity of documentation, as many employers have already discovered to their cost since the tightening of employment rules surrounding immigrant workers, as falsified information has no way of being checked and is only up to the diligence of the employer to ascertain the true identity of their employees.

The limit of the financial penalties set to be levied on landlords who fail to comply is also yet to be decided but is expected to be severe and may run into thousands of pounds.

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