Posts with tag: right to rent checks

The Impact of Right to Rent Checks on International Students

The latest research from student lettings platform exposes the impact of the controversial Right to Rent checks on international students, as the Government tries to crack down on illegal migrants.

Introduced in February last year, the Right to Rent scheme was launched by the Government as part of a wider initiative to assist with combating illegal immigration.

All landlords and letting agents are now required to check that tenants are legally in the country before renting out a property, or face criminal sanctions.

The Impact of Right to Rent Checks on International Students

The Impact of Right to Rent Checks on International Students

Tenants, including international students, must prove that they are legally allowed to reside in England by providing their identification documents to landlords. Tenants that do not provide the documentation could face deportation.

As it has now been a full year since the Right to Rent scheme was introduced, StudentTenant has assessed whether it has been successful in combating illegal migration, or if it has become an avenue for landlords to discriminate against international students/tenants.

Government data regarding the Right to Rent checks found that, of the 7,806 calls made by landlords to the Home Office between July 2015 and June 2016, just 31 illegal migrants were deported – calling into question how effective the scheme really is.

Furthermore, the official Right to Rent report from the Home Office reads: “Landlords, agents and householders should not be acting in a discriminatory way provided they make all checks on prospective adult occupiers.”

Nevertheless, a damaging new report from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants suggests that the scheme is causing discrimination against Britons, particularly ethnic minorities.

In addition, StudentTenant found that an alarming 23% of landlords were less likely to consider international students, while 76% of student landlords would not consider a tenant if they could not provide documentation that proves they are legally allowed to rent the property instantly.

It is likely that, due to requirements from the Government to check the legitimacy of documentation, recording expiry dates of immigration status and the pressure of fines, landlords are less willing to take on the extra burden of international students, the agency believes.

12 months on from in the introduction of the checks, 47% of student landlords still feel that the scheme will not have a significant impact on filtering out illegal immigrants in England – the core reason it was set up. What’s even more worrying, StudentTenant points out, is that 17% of landlords are still unaware of the rules.

The Managing Director of StudentTenant, Danielle Cullen, says: “When the new Right to Rent regulations were introduced, there was uproar amongst the landlord community, because of the supposedly unfair burden placed on them in relation to enforcing immigration laws. I have to say that the apparent ineffective implementation of the regulations so far seems to have warranted that uproar, particularly given the adverse effects on the international community legally residing within the UK.

“The worst part must be the lack of resources to actually police the changes, represented by the very minimal number of fines and deportations. Instead of actually assisting with a problem which should essentially be managed by the Government, it has simply created divides and increased discrimination and access to housing for non-British tenants, which is just not acceptable.”

Have your attitudes towards letting to international students changed following the introduction of the checks?

Failure to Comply with Right to Rent will be Criminal Offence from December

Published On: October 5, 2016 at 10:15 am


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Failure to Comply with Right to Rent will be Criminal Offence from December

Failure to Comply with Right to Rent will be Criminal Offence from December

Yesterday, the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, announced at the Conservative Party Conference that failure to comply with the Right to Rent scheme will become a criminal offence from December.

As of 1st February this year, all landlords and letting agents in England have been legally required to conduct immigration status checks on all prospective tenants under the Right to Rent scheme. Those that do not comply with the new law can currently face civil penalties, such as fines of up to £3,000.

However, for many months now, the criminalisation of the Right to Rent scheme has been in discussion in the House of Commons.

Rudd has now confirmed that failure to comply with Right to Rent law will become a criminal offence as of December 2016.

All landlords and letting agents must be aware of their duties, to avoid facing criminal sanctions. The Home Office has compiled information for landlords on how to conduct the immigration checks: /home-office-reinforces-landlord-responsibilities-right-rent/

Reacting to the news, the Managing Director of the Deposit Protection Service, Julian Foster, says: “Although landlords will always want to operate within the law, ever changes in the regulatory environment can mean that many fall foul of legislation without realising it.

“Pressures on landlords can be significant, particularly those who are also in full-time work, so it’s vital that they receive sufficient information and support whenever the rules change.”

He insists: “Anyone letting out property must fully understand regulations that affect them, as well as their obligations as a landlord to both their tenants and the authorities.”

We remind all landlords of their responsibilities under Right to Rent and to stick to the law at all times.

To keep up to date with your obligations as a landlord, remember to check back to Landlord News regularly for daily advice and updates.

Agents Advised to Put Right to Rent Procedures in Place Within Weeks

Published On: November 13, 2015 at 3:23 pm


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Letting agents in England should put their Right to Rent checks procedure in place within the next six weeks, it was advised at the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) conference yesterday.

Agents Advised to Put Right to Rent Procedures in Place Within Weeks

Agents Advised to Put Right to Rent Procedures in Place Within Weeks

Landlords or their agents are obliged to conduct Right to Rent checks on prospective tenants from 1st February 2016.

The conference, held at the Mermaid Conference Centre next to Blackfriars Bridge, London, followed the theme of Sourcing Business in a Crowded Market Place.

Property expert Kate Faulkner was the conference moderator and also gave her own presentation on the future for the private rental sector.

She warns agents to look out for what is happening in Wales and Scotland, as changes in legislation affect their sectors. These changes could spread to the rest of the UK in the future and lettings firms must react accordingly.

Tim Rymer, the Deputy Director for Home Office policy, discussed the national rollout of the Right to Rent scheme, following a pilot in the West Midlands. He confirmed that agents and landlords will not be obliged to check on tenancies that start before 1st February next year.

However, solicitor Robert Bolwell pointed out that there is a 28-day period prior to the eve of the tenancy starting in which the checks must be conducted.

This means that agents and landlords must have their procedures in place and active from the beginning of January, if a tenancy is due to start after 1st February.

Bolwell, of law firm Dutton Gregory, gave a round up of new and forthcoming legislation and regulation, adding that it seems all letting agents must now be fully trained solicitors.

As agents are also obliged to provide tenants with a copy of the Government’s How to Rent guide, Bolwell urges firms to send it at the first opportunity and record the date that it is sent and the version given out, as new editions are released from time-to-time.


















Criminalisation of Landlords by Right to Rent Discussed in Commons

Published On: November 2, 2015 at 10:06 am


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The criminalisation of landlords by the Right to Rent scheme has been discussed in the House of Commons.

Strong concerns were raised that landlords or their letting agents would automatically be committing an offence if the Home Office informs them that a tenant is in the UK illegally.

James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister, said that he would “reflect carefully” on the worries expressed.

The Right to Rent scheme was introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, but the Immigration Bill 2015 will criminalise breaches of the regime and will be enforced across England from 1st February 2016.

The 2014 Act imposed civil penalties, but the new Bill will implement criminal sanctions.

In a committee session on the new Immigration Bill, various suggested amendments were discussed.

Keir Starmer, Shadow Home Office Minister, expressed: “The scheme has flaws… it includes provisions that put landlords in an impossible and unacceptable position because they become criminals on a date when they cannot do anything about that criminality.

Criminalisation of Landlords by Right to Rent Discussed in Commons

Criminalisation of Landlords by Right to Rent Discussed in Commons

“If it is brought to a landlord’s attention that they have someone in their premises who does not have a right to rent, they are duty-bound.

“It would be entirely appropriate for them to begin eviction proceedings from the moment they find out about the illegal tenant, but the landlord is already criminalised.

“They have become a criminal; they simply have not been prosecuted and charged. I cannot see any reason or need for that.”1

Starmer is the former Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the Crown Prosecution Service.

He supported an amendment to give landlords two months to evict a tenant after learning that they are in the UK illegally. A further amendment would make sure that there would be no retrospective penalties.

Anne McLaughlin, an SNP MP, stressed the point: “As currently drafted, the bill would mean that as soon as a landlord receives a notice from the Secretary of State that the tenant does not have the right to rent, they would automatically be committing a criminal offence.

“That is despite the bill requiring landlords to give tenants 28 days’ notice to leave the property under the proposed eviction procedure.”

She also fears that landlords will get caught between housing law and the requirements of the Immigration Bill: “It is a case of ‘Which law will I break?’ Which of those laws would the minister suggest it is better to break?”1

Brokenshire responded: “Amendment 71 would protect a landlord from potential prosecution where they have taken action to evict a tenant who is an illegal immigrant within two months of receiving a Home Office notice.

“There is a technical issue with the amendment however, as it provides for that defence only when a landlord has taken eviction action under the additional routes provided in proposed new sections 33D and 33E of the Immigration Act 2014, inserted into the Act by clause 13.

“The amendment would provide no defence where a landlord is able and chooses to pursue eviction under existing routes.”

He explained: “For example, a landlord may be able to pursue a no-fault eviction under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 or use other grounds available under section 8 of that Act.

“In some circumstances, the proposed defences would not be available.”

The committee also addressed concerns raised by David Smith, Policy Director of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). He worries that landlords will become risk-averse, causing them to discriminate against prospective tenants they believe to be non-British.

A letter from the RLA to Brokenshire was also discussed. It detailed a number of fears, including a worry that law-abiding landlords would feel that they are facing substantial fines or imprisonment.

The letter also believes that there is a potential for chaos, as the 2011 Census revealed that 16.5% of private tenants do not have a passport.

Brokenshire does not agree with the RLA. He said: “Landlords conduct some checks; they might not be focused specifically on a tenant’s right to be in the country or who they are renting their property to. Many use agents to conduct credit and other checks.

“There is a sense that landlords in the rented sector will be vigilant. They have been or will be doing those general checks.

“The offence is only if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that someone in their rented property does not have the right to be in the country. We are setting a relatively high bar. We will give that clarity to the Residential Landlords Association.”1 

What are your concerns surrounding the new Bill?


Right to Rent Checks Must be Conducted Within 28 Days Before the Tenancy Starts

Published On: October 27, 2015 at 2:21 pm


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With the Right to Rent scheme rolling out nationwide on 1st February 2016, landlords and letting agents must know when they should conduct immigration checks on their prospective tenants.

However, the latest Home Office guidance does not detail exactly when the checks should be made.

The most recent advice can be found here:

Right to Rent Checks Must be Conducted Within 28 Days of Tenancy Starting

Right to Rent Checks Must be Conducted Within 28 Days of Tenancy Starting

The lack of timescale for the checks has led to some law firms stating that there is no set period for when the checks must be conducted, only that they should be undertaken before the tenancy begins.

However, the guidance does reference a code of practice that was published in December 2014. Within this, the Home Office explains: “Right rent checks on prospective tenants may only be undertaken and recorded up to 28 days before the tenancy agreement comes into effect.”

Read the code of practice:

With the 28-day period specified, some agents have voiced concerns over any lets that are arranged months in advance, particularly student properties.

A Home Office spokesperson clarifies: “The earlier code of practice is still current. Our more recent document is really just a supplement. It does not go into the level of detail that the code does, but both documents are correct.”1 

Landlords and agents should be aware that the code of practice, and therefore the 28-day timeframe, is a legal requirement.

However, the 28-day period is not as straightforward as it seems, as the timeframe expires the day before the tenancy starts.

The law states: “The prescribed period within which the prescribed requirements must be complied with for the purposes of sections 24(4) and 26(4) of the Act is 28 days ending on the day before the day on which the residential tenancy agreement which authorises occupation is entered into.”

The full legislation can be read here:

In practice, the 28-day requirement could mean that tenancies are terminated if they have been set up months in advance. Checks conducted 28 before the eve of the start of the tenancy could reveal that the tenant has no right to rent. This would then leave a void period.

The Association of Letting Agents (ARLA) has insisted that the 28-day rule must be strictly observed.

Rachel Hartley, ARLA’s expert on Right to Rent, explains whether this could pose problems to agents that agree lets in advance: “In a situation like this, we are advising agents to do any reasonable preliminary checks that are possible in advance – sometimes this may be via a video call, noting details of the call – and then set up the tenancy subject to Right to Rent check requirements prior to occupation (within the 28-day period).

“This will help to ensure that the letting can go through trouble-free and the agent can still establish the statutory excuse against civil penalty.”1

If you’re a landlord or letting agent, remember to stick to the law when conducting Right to Rent checks on your tenants.

Letting Agents Must Report All Right to Rent Checks to Landlords

Published On: October 27, 2015 at 10:16 am


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A solicitor has advised that all letting agents must report any Right to Rent checks that they conduct on behalf of a landlord to the investor.

Letting Agents Must Report All Right to Rent Checks to Landlords

Letting Agents Must Report All Right to Rent Checks to Landlords

Rachel Harvey, a lawyer at Cartwright King, states that the Right to Rent scheme is the responsibility of the landlord, as they authorise occupation of the property in return for rent.

However, liability can be passed on to letting agents by written agreement.

Harvey explains: “The written agreement must be signed by both parties and agree terms and timescales, and include a clause saying the agent takes legal responsibility as well as stating that they accept full responsibility for paying the penalty should a statutory excuse not be accepted.

“Where a landlord and an agent enter a written agreement stating that the agent will be responsible for taking the steps necessary to establish an excuse against a penalty, the agent will be liable for a penalty if a breach of the scheme is found and they have failed to undertake sufficient checks and report the outcome of these to the landlord, and make appropriate reports to the Home Office where necessary.”

She continues: “Following a check, the agent must report to the landlord the outcome of the check.

“If they report that the check shows someone does not have the right to rent and the landlord insists on entering into the tenancy nonetheless, and the agent has informed the landlord in writing, then the liability passes back to the landlord.”1

Harvey also notes that if the landlord meets the tenant and there is not an agreement in place for the checks to be conducted by an agent, then the landlord is responsible for undertaking the checks, even if the agent is accountable for other referencing and administration.

If you use a letting agent, always ensure that your individual responsibilities are clear to avoid penalisation.