On 1st February 2016, a new Right to Rent legislation came into effect that will impact landlords of private residential properties in England.
Called ‘Right to Rent’ it places a new responsibility on landlords, or their instructed agents, to carry out a series of checks to ensure any tenants aged 18 or over, starting a tenancy on or after 1st February 2016 at the property have the legal right to rent in the UK. The measures will also apply to lodgers. The checks must be completed within 28 days prior to the tenant(s) living at the property and a record of the checks must be retained and saved appropriately.
For those found to have time-limited permission to reside in the UK, then the landlord or instructed agent, will need to verify that this is valid and current, as well as be required to carry out a further check just prior to the expiry date given for their right to stay in the UK, or 12 months after the previous check – whichever comes first.
Failure to demonstrate that the appropriate Right to Rent checks and procedures were carried out, could result in a fine of up to £3,000 for the landlord, agent or any person who permitted a sub-let of the property to un-checked persons who do not qualify.
What does the ‘Right to Rent’ check involve?
The check will require the submission of, and permission granted for copies to be taken of two or more original authorised documents of the intended resident(s) aged 18 or over to be provided. This is typically a passport and/or any relevant certificate or permit granting either an unlimited or time-limited UK stay and right to rent.
These must be provided in their original, non-tampered state and any inconsistencies (such as a name change through marriage) must also be substantiated with the appropriate paperwork.
The tenant(s) will be required to present these in person prior to commencing the tenancy, to allow the agent or landlord to ascertain if the photographic ID is a true likeness, for dates of birth to be checked for consistency and likeness, and to enable an authorised copy to be taken and retained as proof the check was carried out.
Where a time limited right to stay is issued, you will be reminded that a further check will need to be carried out within either 28 days prior to the stated expiry date, or just prior to 12months on from the initial check – whichever comes first. This could invoke a special condition in your tenancy contract which must be abided by.
For more information on types of acceptable documents, please visit this Right to Rent Guide by the Home Office
Failure of the landlord, or instructed agent to carry out either the initial check, or the further check, could result in a civil penalty fine of up to £3,000. Applications to rent which do not satisfy the Right to Rent checks could be passed on to the Home Office for further investigation. In these cases, please be aware your application for tenancy may be declined, unless satisfactory papers can be provided prior to the tenancy.
For further details on the potential fines and routes of appeal can be found here on gov.uk
The website www.gov.uk provides the latest guidance and information on Right to Rent. This blog was produced using information from Gov.uk that was correct as of 21st January 2016.
If you are a private landlord of a property in England that is likely to be affected by these changes, you can instruct an agent in writing to undertake these checks on your behalf, as part of an agreed, fee-payable service. Harrods Estates Lettings negotiators are ARLA trained which ensures they are up to date with all requirements for private residential lettings processes and compliance. Follow these links to learn more about our Landlord or Property Management services.