Landlord News

Right to Rent Pilot Scheme Evaluation

Rose - October 21, 2015

An evaluation of the Right to Rent pilot scheme found that in the first six months, 109 illegal immigrants were discovered.

By mid-September, only nine had been taken out of the UK, with a further five awaiting removal. Another nine were ordered to report to Immigration Enforcement, but failed to do so.

Yesterday (20th October 2015), the Home Office published an evaluation of the pilot scheme that was conducted in the West Midlands.

At the same time, it announced that a national rollout of the Right to Rent scheme will come into force on 1st February 2016. Read our guide on the checks here: /right-to-rent-checks-in-force-from-february/

The report, which covers the first six months of the pilot, from 1st December 2014-31st May 2015, reveals that very few landlords or letting agents were penalised, with just five civil penalty notices served. Also,

Right to Rent Pilot Scheme Evaluation

Right to Rent Pilot Scheme Evaluation

13 referral notices were issued.

The Right to Rent scheme was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014, with the West Midlands pilot using civil penalties.

However, under the new Immigration Act 2015, the penalties will become criminal sanctions.

The Home Office reports that out of 44 letting agents in the region, 36 felt they were informed about the scheme, alongside 70 out of 114 landlords.

It also states that agents voiced concerns over rogue landlords and agents not complying with the scheme.

Compliant agents were worried that immigrants unable to provide documentation could be exploited by the private rental sector.

In addition to online surveys, the Home Office analysed interviews and focus groups, and conducted a mystery shopper experiment.

The report found that the Landlords Checking Service made 109 decisions over prospective tenants’ right to rent in the UK, resulting in 95 yes decisions and 15 no decisions.

As a result of referrals through the scheme, there were 37 enforcement visits in the region.

In total, 109 people were identified as living in the UK illegally, of whom 63 were previously unknown to the Home Office.

The mystery shopper exercise revealed that a higher proportion of black and minority ethnic renters were asked to provide more information when enquiring about a property.

However, the report notes that they were “more likely to be offered properties”1, compared to white British tenants.

Prior to the scheme, 53 out of 64 letting agents always required photographic ID. This increased to 60 out of 64 when the scheme began.

Overall, letting agents believe that the scheme does not have an obvious impact on the market.

A higher proportion of landlords – 27 out of 35 – said the scheme increased their workload, compared with 26 out of 56 agents.

Of these 26 agents, various reasons were given as to why their workload was raised, including: explaining the scheme to tenants and landlords; monitoring when follow-up checks are due; and dealing with unfamiliar paperwork.

Three pulse check surveys were conducted at various points during the evaluation.

During the first pulse check, agents were asked how they planned to carry out the checks. Out of 41 respondents, 20 said they would conduct the checks in-house, 16 would use a tenancy referencing service and five did not know.

Have you thought about how you will conduct the checks?

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evaluation-of-the-right-to-rent-scheme