Your Telford Property Specialist

Right to Rent- What is it and what must we do?

Right to Rent will affect every landlord in England from February 1st, so if you don’t know what it is and why it’s important, read on.

Do you know what ‘Right to Rent’ is and why it’s important for all agents and landlords in England as of 1st February?

All landlords/ agents will have to ensure that every adult tenant living in their properties has a legal right to be in the country. This is for all tenancies starting on or after 1st February 2016.

So how do we do this? By checking their passport or some other form of photo ID and, if they aren’t a national of a country within the European Economic Area or Switzerland, making sure they have been granted unlimited or time-limited leave to remain in the UK.

For many this may mean an extra process to their referencing procedure but here at GPS Property this is something that we have been doing for a number of years already.

To avoid accusations of race discrimination, you’ll need to check the ID of every new tenant, although there’s no requirement to check children, even if they turn 18 during the tenancy and tenants who moved in before Feb 1 are also exempt.

These checks must be carried out before the start of the tenancy agreement but no more than 28 days in advance for anyone who doesn’t have a right to live here permanently.

If you fail to adhere to the above, then the resulting penalty is a fine of up to £3,000 and even a prison sentence if you’re found to be housing an illegal immigrant.

For landlords and agents to adhere to these new rules (incorporated into Section 22 of the Immigration Act last year) they must physically see a copy of the tenant’s original photo ID and any necessary permits in the tenant’s presence.

If you find that you’re struggling then the Landlords Checking Service, has been set up by the Home Office to make it easy for us to verify a tenant’s right to rent online.  You have to fill in a form with your tenant’s details and you should get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ within two days. If you don’t, you’ll be sent an automated email allowing you to grant the tenancy anyway.

Obviously, This creates a problem for us when securing tenants from overseas before they arrive in the UK, as they won’t be able to verity the documentation in the tenant’s presence. Fortunately, the law allows for a tenancy agreement to be issued prior to the checks taking place, as long as they are completed before the tenant moves in.

Here at GPS Property we’ve been placing overseas tenants for many years without any issues. Using forward thinking and robust procedures we ensure that any risk is mitigated.

If you stick to these 4 golden rules you should find that you will be fine:

1: Obtain original versions of one or more acceptable documents.

2: Check the documents validity in the presence of the holder

3: Make and retain a clear copy in a format that cannot be doctored. In addition, record the date the check was made and keep on file for one year.

4:  for tenants who have visas, it is our responsibility to check it has been renewed if they intend to remain in England. If not, you’ll have to report them to the Home Office.

For more information, click here or call the Home Office Helpline on 0300 069 9799.

Posted on February 1st, by Gary Preston in From the Blog.
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