Thursday 8 December 2016

Landlords to face criminal sanctions in amended Right-to-Rent legislation

Kagowa Kuruneri of Garden House Solicitors, Hertfordshire
Article by Kagowa Kuruneri

Since February 1st, 2016 Landlords across England have been obligated to ensure that tenants have a right to rent. Failure to fulfill this obligation meant that landlords could face a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant. However as of December 1st 2016, and under the Immigration Act 2016, landlords, their managing agents, and occupants who sub-let all or part of their accommodation could now face up to 5 years in prison for failing to verify a tenant’s right to rent.

In order to comply with the Right-to-Rent scheme, landlords must:
  • Establish that a tenants immigration status meets the requirement to rent a property;
  • Verify that the tenant’s immigration documents meet the requirement of those listed under the Right-to-Right scheme;
  • In the presence of the tenant, check that the documents provided are genuine;
  • Interview the tenant and make reasonable inquiries about who else will be staying at the property;
  • Ascertain whether the tenant has a time-limited or continuous right to rent;
  • Copy all documents and retain them in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998;
  • Notify the Home Office if the tenant’s circumstances change; and
  • Conduct follow-up checks when the tenant’s right to right expires or if there is a new tenancy agreement 
These requirements apply to all new tenants aged 18 and above. It is against the law to only assess tenants you believe are not British citizens. Checks must be made against all tenants regardless of whether or not: there is a legitimate agreement in place; the tenant is named in the agreement; or the agreement is in writing. These conditions also extend to tenants or lodgers who are only permitted limited stay in the UK. In these circumstances checks must be conducted by Landlords 28 days before the start of tenancy. Periodic follow-up checks may also be required thereafter.

Tenants who have had, or who receive Section 8 notices will now have a technical defense in possession proceedings if landlords or their managing agents issue these notices without specifically referring to the right-to-rent scheme under the Immigration Act 2016.

There are some types of accommodation that are exempt from this scheme. To find out more, or if you or anyone you know requires help in this regard please email me or get in touch with us on LinkedIn.

Garden House Solicitors

Tel: 01992 422 128

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.