Immigration… it’s a hot topic right now and landlords appear to be a valuable extension of the Home Office with the requirement to carry out right to rent checks for every tenant renting one of their properties.

First introduced in 2018, the NRLA explains the act and, for those who need more in-depth information, have some helpful resources. Here’s what they say:

“The Immigration Act 2014 introduced the concept of ‘right to rent’ to the private rented sector in England.

This requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of their prospective occupiers at the outset of the tenancy.”

What’s changing?

Here’s the thing. We don’t think that Landlords should be put on the front line of checking people’s right to be in the country.

It’s a complex area and could simply lead to discrimination against those who do not have British citizenship.

However, landlords don’t have a choice and from 22nd January, penalties are to rocket:

This is a huge increase and massive overhaul that we don’t doubt sits alongside the government’s clamp down on illegal migration.

Interestingly, data released in the summer last year revealed how over 320 civil penalties worth £215,000 have been levied since the start of 2018 when Right to Rent rules were first introduced. It will be interesting to see what the data is in a few years time under these new fines!

How to carry out right to rent checks

With landlords facing an increasing burden of compliance, Right to Rent checks are yet another area where they may fall foul and it’s no surprise that in September, Letting Agent Today reported how:

“Increasing numbers of landlords are considering instructing lettings agents for the first time because of increased red tape and the complexity of repairs.”

For landlords carrying out their own Right to Rent checks, here’s how explains they should be carried out:

There are two ways to carry out a check:

  • Using tenant’s original documents
  • Online with a right to rent ‘share code’

How to check original documents:

  1. Check which adults will use your property as their main home (your ‘tenants’).
  2. Ask them for original documents that prove they can live in the UK.
  3. Check their documents to see if they have the right to rent your property.
  4. Check that each tenant’s documents are genuine and belong to them, with the tenant present.
  5. Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.

For an individual landlord, it might be worth looking into an online tenant referencing company where your credit checks and right to rent checks can be easily carried out for a relatively low cost. Doing this will make sure you have not missed crucial things such as known forgeries leading to issues down the line.

It could be a big year with compliance, seeing if the Right to Rent bill passes before an election so this area is one for landlords to watch closely!

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