Leona Leung is a landlord and a letting agent based in Birmingham. She mostly rents out properties in the city centre and many of her tenants are international students and professionals. Here, she explains what she thinks of the Right to Rent checks that landlords like her have to carry out.
“I love being a landlord. I like helping tenants find their dream property rent, and nearly a decade renting out property in and around Birmingham, and you can’t beat the smile on a tenants face when they get the keys to their new home.
The people that I rent to are mostly from overseas.I am also an active member of the Birmingham Landlords Steering Group, as well as a letting agent in the city.
However, there is one part of my job that I don’t love; that causes me headaches and makes me worry constantly that I’m getting things wrong.
That is, carrying out Right to Rent checks.
Let’s get one thing clear. I understand the importance of doing Right to Rent checks. It is important that the Government knows who is coming in this country and renting out property. What I fail to see is why it is the landlord or letting agent that has to do these checks.
I have been in this industry for over ten years. Being a landlord is my job, that’s what I am skilled and experienced at doing. I am not a border agent.
When a tenant gives a landlord a passport, that is not British, how are we supposed to know whether it is real or fake? Checking people’s visas is also a complicated process.
Added to this confusion, is the constant threat of penalties and fines that we could potentially face for getting these checks wrong. Landlords that I speak to tell me that they are scared of getting the checks wrong, despite trying their hardest to get things right, and then being penalized for this.
Added to this, there is also the time factor to consider. Carrying out Right to Rent checks swallows up a lot of time, because they cause a huge amount of work.
The identity checks in particular take a while, and because of this tenants cannot move in to their properties when they want to, much to my frustration and theirs.
This means that propertiesare left in void periods for a very long time,which is of no use to anyone.
Just imagine how much time it would free up if landlords didn’t have to do these checks. We could put more time into finding prospective tenants, maintaining properties, dealing with enquiries from current tenants-the list is endless.
Although I find the Right to Rent checks frustrating, I will still be renting to overseas tenants. I find that overseas tenants are mostly excellent tenants, for example I have rarely had an issue of tenants not paying their rent on time.
Like many landlords, I consider myself to be a good, law abiding landlord. I am not a border agent, and in my view, the Home Office should check the status of prospective tenants themselves, and be clearer as to what my responsibilities are, and let me get on with the job that I love”
Leona’s Media Appearances
Leona has appeared on Sky News to talk about her experiences of the Right to Rent policy, as taking part in a ‘Huffington Post listens’ debate on the subject and she has also shared her experiences in trade publications.
RLA research on Right to Rent
You can read the latest RLA PEARL research on Right to Rent, which was published in December 2018, here. One of the headline findings of this research report was that 44% of private landlords are less likely to rent to those without a British passport. This figure had increased from 42% the year before.