The reaction to the announcement that Right to Rent legislation will soon be with us has been quite robust and from all quarters of the private rented sector. The general feeling towards landlords and agents having to check the immigration status of potential tenants seems to be largely negative and based along the lines of being difficult to administer and creating more potential problems than it fixes.
In brief, a landlord will have to verify a tenant’s right to remain in the UK before allowing them to rent a property. They have to have a right to remain that is in excess of their proposed tenancy, for example, you have a three year visa and you have a 6 month tenancy.
The legislation (currently) also states that the landlord has to check any adult who lives at the property even if they are not on the tenancy agreement. This is one of the concerns regarding the difficulty in administration.
The key issues that are circulating are centred around being able to get a property to rent and what happens if you are evicted should you not have the correct proof of residency. Indeed, some British people and legitimate migrants may find it difficult to provide the necessary documentation!
Firstly, if a landlord wants to be safe there may be a suggestion that anyone who doesn’t look or sound like they are a British citizen may be unfairly excluded. The question as to what that looks and sounds like is potentially open to abuse and could cause discrimination. It may also open up an “underground” market for rogue landlords to house illegal immigrants for premium rents, and turn a blind eye in the hope that the legislation is not enforced.
Secondly if someone is evicted from a property what happens? Where do they go? How do we find them to remove them from the country? Are we simply going to move the illegal members of our society from houses to the street?
There are many more complicated issues that will no doubt be addressed before the proposal moves into law but right now the current information is creating more questions than answers and the Immigration Minister and Home Office may have to have a re-think based on industry feedback.
Mark Harrison is the Legal Support Manager at Belvoir and his job is to ensure that all of our Franchise Owners are fully conversant with any proposals to changes in the law regarding sales and lettings way before they actually become law. This removes the fear of non-compliance, where penalties can be harsh. In the case of “Right to rent” there are fines of up to £3,000 and even possible jail terms of up to 5 years for repeat offenders.
This proposed legislation looks like it may change beyond all recognition before it actually passes into law. Good luck Mark!
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