Initial launch phase of Right to Rent legislation commences

The first phase of the Right to Rent legislation commenced this month, which means landlords now need to perform immigration checks on potential renters and ensure they have the right to live within the UK.

This legislation currently only applies to regions within the West Midlands, with the intention to roll out nationally within the next 12 months. Property professionals are advised to remain up to date with this legislation, even if their clients are not within the current remit. There may also be amendments made gradually which will be dependent on the pilot phase.

Supporting documentation from the Government can be easily accessed online and details who will be affected, any exceptions, relevant checks that are to be carried out, and how to avoid discrimination.

Now the rules have been enforced, any properties let on or after 1st December 2014 will require tenant checks. Any homes that are rented to those who are not eligible to live within the UK could see the property owners facing a civil penalty of up to £3,000.

If any of your Buy to Let clients are renting out properties and find their tenants are unable to supply the necessary documents, they can apply for a check to be carried out at the Home Office. This is said to take around two working days to complete.

The Code of Practice for Landlords documentation states that landlords cannot assume that a person does not have the right to live in the UK, based on their race, ethnic origin, or accent. It highlights that we live in a diverse nation and only in a small number of cases will the prospective tenant actually be living in the UK illegally. In order to avoid liability for discriminatory activity, landlords are advised to perform checks on every prospective tenant. The aim of this is to clearly demonstrate "consistent, transparent and non-discriminatory letting practices".

In instances where the potential tenant refuses to undertake the checks, the landlord has the lawful right to select another tenant.

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