Arthur looks at the new right-to-rent rules Landlords must follow.
From February Landlords had to do background right-to-rent immigration checks on all potential tenants or face a £3000 fine. As of yesterday, Landlords could face criminal proceedings for failing to check their tenant’s right-to-rent. These changes come as Landlords are forced to begin dealing with agency fees.
The four criminal offences that landlords may face include a fine of £3000 per tenant and up to five years in prison. Persistent breaches of the right-to-rent guidelines could see Landlords hit with both penalties. Those that do not have the right-to-rent in the U.K. are illegal immigrants or people that have overstayed their VISA.
These penalties are also aimed at Landlords that fail to remove illegal migrants from their properties under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Landlords had expressed concern that they would be punished for housing illegal immigrants, due to difficulties faced when trying to remove them from their property. However, the change in potential punishment has also come with changes to Landlords abilities to evict. In some cases, Landlords can now evict tenants without the right-to-rent without a court order.
If Landlords are housing people without the right-to-rent, they will receive a letter from the Home Office informing them that they are doing so. They will then have to take reasonable steps to evict this person, or persons, to avoid prosecution.
Landlords can pass the responsibility of making these checks to a letting agent. This must be done through a written agreement, signed by both parties. In the absence of a written agreement, it will remain the Landlords responsibility.
These changes were designed to catch the criminal landlords that work on the periphery of society, renting at hyper-inflated prices to desperate people with no other option. For most Landlords, the change will not make a difference. However, it is best to ensure that the right steps are in place to avoid any potential fines.