Right to rent catching out landlords
Right to Rent are you meeting the legislation.
Right to rent has been around for some time, being introduced in February 2016. It surprised me to see a social media post that stated that over 400 landlords have been fined a combined total of £265,000. Now from my understanding the Home Office has provided comprehensive guidelines to meet the right to rent legislation. Why are all these landlords being fined?
To help reduce or even stop the fines I would like to revisit the obligations of landlords under the Right to Rent scheme. As a landlord you are required to check whether potential tenants have the right to live in the UK. The government has provided comprehensive guidelines for these checks and explains that follow up checks must be carried out to ensure the tenants circumstances have not changed.
What checks are you currently making to ensure a potential tenant has the right to live in this country?
Researching the Home Office figures it seems that in the first year over 100 fines were issued to landlords. Looking at the total number of fines it seems to be increasing as the time passes. Is that because more and more landlords are cutting corners or is the Government clamping down more firmly on landlords who fall foul of this legislation. It seems last year in 2017 fines peaked with 264 landlords facing a fine. Have landlords finally woken up to the Right to rent rules as it seems on 39 fines have been issued in 2018?
Should you choose to ignore this legislation what penalties can you potentially receive. The amount you could be fined for a breach of Right to Rent rules depends on the type of accommodation you’re providing and whether it’s your first offence. Fines will apply if you rent your property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK and cannot prove you did a check on their documents. As a person who helps landlords evict tenants for a living, I cannot stress highly enough the importance of ensuring an auditable paper trail, something so simple could save you thousands of pounds.
When you look at the amounts that a landlord can be fined. Is it enough to deter them?
A first offence will get you a maximum fine if your tenant is a lodger of £500, if your tenant is in a buy to let property then it could be as much as £3000. When you look at what some landlords are obtaining for rent you can almost see why they may take the gamble until caught?
The grey area appears to be is when you are found guilty of renting to someone who you know – or who you have ‘reasonable cause to believe’ – is in the UK illegally, the penalties are much steeper. In such cases you could face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.
The obligation is on the landlord or letting agent to prove that you have checked a tenant’s immigration status before they moved in. You need to ask any adult living in the property to provide original documents that prove their right to live in the UK. These documents should have photos that match the tenant, and should show that their right to stay in the UK has not expired. To prove you’ve fulfilled your obligations, you need to make a photocopy (or high-quality photograph) of the documents, including all relevant passport pages and both sides of a residence permit. These documents must be kept for the time tenants rent from you, plus a year.