The Right to Rent Scheme comes into force 1st February 2016.
As a part of the Immigration Act 2014 every private residential landlord must check their prospective tenants’ immigration status. UK, EEA and Swiss nationals have an unlimited right to rent and so do not need to produce proof of their right to rent.
It applies where the tenancy is the only or main home of the adult occupiers.
Tenants, including occupiers, not listed on the tenancy agreement, need to have the relevant original paperwork before they approach a prospective landlord. (See www.gov.uk for a definitive list of documents required.) Adult occupiers are only required to produce documents in line with the government’s guidelines. Otherwise, the landlord could be at risk of being accused of discrimination.
The scheme’s aim is to discourage individuals whose right to reside in the UK has expired, so they cannot establish ‘a settled life’ in the UK. This scheme relates to any nationals who require permission to enter or reside in the UK.
Similar codes of practice are already in place for employers.
By checking the relevant documents, landlords or their agents, have a defence (statutory excuse), if the tenant’s right to reside is questioned by the courts.
The responsibility is an onerous one and the failure to comply could result in penalties against the landlord or their agents. The exact penalty will depend on the circumstances of each case.
Our advice is to be on the safe side and include it into your pre-tenancy check now.
- Be clear who is responsible for checking the documentation, you or your agent.
- Ask all prospective tenants to provide proof of their nationality. Only individuals from outside the UK, EEA or Switzerland need to provide proof of their right to rent.
- It is essential landlords or their agents check ALL the adult occupiers not just the ones on the tenancy agreement.
- Keep a record of when the checks were carried out, a copy of the original documents presented and details of when the permission expires.
- Recheck the documents on or near the expiry date to ensure the right subsists.
- Advise the Home Office immediately, if any relevant tenant’s right expires
- The scheme relates to all residential accommodation even shared accommodation and can include caravans
If a local authority, housing association or other social housing provider; places tenants with you, they carry the responsibility of checking the requisite consents.
Hostels and refuges are excluded from this scheme, where they are funded by the local authority, government or charities.
For more detailed information on acceptable verification documents, procedure, penalties and exclusions please visit the website www.gov.uk for the definitive information.
This blog post is only a brief summary of the new scheme and is provided for indicative purposes only.