Back in November 2013, Simon Jones reported on government proposals to require landlords to check that their tenants have the right to remain in the UK. For any new residential tenancy agreement after 1 February, this proposal has become a reality.
Broadly speaking, landlords that let out residential property will need to check how many adults will be living in the property and whether they are allowed to stay in the UK. Tenants will be required to produce documents to prove their right to be in the UK. For individuals who do not have an unlimited right to stay, landlords are required to carry out follow-up checks and, if a tenant's right to rent has expired, to make a notification to the Home Office.
The penalty for a landlord failing to comply with its obligations is a fine of up to £3,000. This all makes worrying reading for residential landlords who already have a number of hurdles to jump through in order to let out a property correctly (ie protecting deposits in tenancy deposit schemes and providing certain set information about the deposit scheme, providing an EPC to tenants and a copy of the Department of Communities and Local Government's "checklist for renting in England").
There is some good news for landlords. They can pass down the responsibility for carrying out the right to rent checks to their agents. Naturally, agents may start to charge more. However, in a recent property report by Savills, it was anticipated that (due to a variety of reasons) buy to let investors may struggle to increase their portfolios or enter the market. As a consequence, this may put upward pressure on private rents.
Helpfully, the Home Office has provided guidance to guide landlords and agents through these new requirements and can be accessed by clicking the links below.
A Short Guide for Landlords on Right to Rent
Right to Rent Document Checks - A User Guide
By Will Leney, Solicitor