From February 1st 2016, landlords with a UK property are required to check the immigration status of a tenant before allowing them to sign a tenancy agreement.
The Right to Rent scheme will essentially mean that a landlord is responsible for checking that their potential tenant/tenants have the correct immigration status to rent a property in the UK.
Landlords who do not carry out these checks could face a fine of up to £3,000.
Landlords who employ an agent to manage their property can ask them to carry out the check on their behalf.
In the case of subletting, if a tenant sub-lets a property without the landlord’s knowledge, then the tenant is liable for carrying out the checks and they will incur the penalty if they don’t do them correctly.
More information about the new Right to Rent scheme can be found here.
Despite the new changes already coming into play, many landlords are unclear about the changes.
Research from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has shown that 90% of landlords have not received information from the government about their new legal duties.
Over 1,500 landlords were surveyed by RLA. 72% of respondents said that they do not understand their obligations.
Landlords may be less likely to rent to those who cannot easily prove their right to rent in the UK. 44% of those surveyed stated that they will only rent to tenants who have documentation they recognise.
Dr David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA commented: “The Government argues that it’s ‘right to rent’ plans form part of a package to make the UK a more hostile environment for illegal immigrants. The evidence shows that it is creating a more hostile environment for good landlords and legitimate tenants.
“Landlords are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Fearful of a fine they face two difficult ways forward. They can play it safe, and take a restrictive view with prospective tenants, potentially causing difficulties for the 12 million UK citizens without a passport. Alternatively, they may target certain individuals to conduct the checks, opening themselves up to accusations of racism.
“The Government’s own evaluation of its pilot scheme noted that there was only limited evidence that the policy is achieving its objectives. Given the considerable problems it will create for tenant-landlord relations it’s time for the Government to think again.”