Landlords are being reminded the time to start new checks under the Government’s Right to Rent scheme is drawing near.
Under new legislation landlords and agents must check the immigration status of any adult set to move into one of their homes to ensure they have a right to rent in the UK. Failure to do so could result in landlords being fined up to £3,000 per illegal occupier, with the potential of criminal charges.
Although the new legislation – currently covering new tenancies only – comes into force on February 1, 2016 the Residential Landlords Association is reminding its members that checks must be made in the 28 days leading up to a tenancy – a period that starts early in the New Year.
It is likely to take time for the necessary documents to be produced, verified and copied and landlords are encouraged to get started as soon as possible within the timeframe to avoid falling foul of the law.
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association said: “February 1 is not all that far away given the fairly big changes that agents and landlords will need to make to their procedures.
“These checks will need to be made using original documents and in the presence of the holder of that document, or with them available by video link. Landlords will also need to retain copies of the original documents.”
The RLA is also reminding landlords that if they have passed responsibility for carrying out the Right to Rent checks to their agent this needs to be a written agreement and must specifically refer to who has the responsibility. If the agreement is silent then the landlord is responsible.
Mr Smith continued: “This will be a big change for many agents and will require changes to almost all their documents. It will also need a number of procedures to be rethought and training given to all staff. For example agents will need to ensure that key staff can identify forgeries, that they have updated their policies on unlawful discrimination, that they have decided whether or not to carry out checks for their landlords, have set up a mechanism to store copies of documents and have a process in place to recheck documents.”
The RLA is currently running a series of training courses exploring the complexities of immigration law and implications of the Immigration Act as well as arming delegates with the knowledge and understanding to perform the new checks. For more information including dates and venues click here.
For more information on Right to Rent, including details of which documents are acceptable as proof of identification click here.
For the most recent government guidance about the Right to Rent scheme click here.