Document with the title immigration with a pencil over it.

Do Your Tenants Have the Right to Rent?

Landlords will have a little more paperwork in the near future as regulations come into force that put the onus on you to check a tenant’s immigration status. Fines of up to £3,000 can be issued for non-compliance with the controversial new rules and one landlord in the West Midlands has already been slapped with a £2,000 fine.

The ‘right to rent’ scheme means that landlords must check the nationality of potential tenants, together with the visa status. A separate penalty can be enforced for each tenant that does not have their papers in order. If a tenant’s visa expires before the end of the tenancy, the landlord must make sure that it is renewed and if it is not, they must inform the Home Office.

It’s a potential minefield for landlords, as they must make sure they have carried out all reasonable checks without falling foul of anti-discrimination laws. By law, landlords are simply not allowed to discriminate against certain nationalities or races when choosing tenants. Any tenant who is rejected unfairly can sue the landlord, using the 2010 Equality Act. Anne-Marie Balfour, a lawyer specialising in housing contract law, said: “Landlords need to tread a fine line between immigration compliance and avoiding race discrimination.”

There has been a backlash against the regulations, as the burden of weeding out illegal immigrants seems to have been pushed on to the private housing sector. Provided the landlord requests the relevant certificates, makes copies and checks that they are dated correctly, though, it should be viewed as simply one more piece of red tape in the rentals process.

The Home Office offers a free Landlords Checking Service that allows landlords to see which documents they can accept and a variety of companies are springing up to offer third-party checks that may or may not offer sufficient protection.

With such hefty fines awaiting a transgression, it pays to have the best checks in place. All landlords, whether they have a buy-to-let empire or one property, should take note of the ‘right to rent’ regulations and ensure that the paperwork is in place.

UPDATE:

Sign up to our landlord newsletter to download a landlord checklist and Right to Rent form for your tenants to complete before you start your tenancy.

About Matthew Daines

Matthew has taken on a dual role in management and operations. His strategic, focused and goal orientated experience in achieving results within international, high-profile companies adds to the further successes, growth and future plans for lettingaproperty.com.

3 Comments

    September 29, 2015 REPLY

    Clearly the govenment and the councils do not want the PRS,they introduce more red tape and extra taxes each day.all we can do is lobby your local mp as hard as you can ,let them know how you feel about the appalling treatment to this sector of home providers.

    July 18, 2015 REPLY

    Sorry as a LL I will take the easy route and I WILL discriminate
    I will avoid all discrimination accusations by requiring such tenant prospects to undergo a RGI check
    If they fail then I have a get out of jail card
    It would then simply be a business decision not to take in a tenant that can’t pass the RGI check
    Simples!!

      July 20, 2015 REPLY

      So are we going to be paid the salaries of the UK Border Agency when they are made redundant? The whole business is a minefield. We had a prospective tenant from Eastern Europe who cannot claim housing benefit until she has been here five years – others appear to be able to claim immediately. What is the government thinking, are they going to publish a concise step by step guide to who we can rent to? When renting to an immigrant on HB surely it would make sense for the Local Authority to do the necessary checks. Illegal immigrants will continue to be housed by landlords who sit under the radar, or by tenants who illegally sublet.
      Like Paul above I will only let if they can prove their family history back to the Magna Carter!

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