Have you got the right to rent?
Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Bristol Post on 3rd February 2016 (also featured on SouthWestBusiness.co.uk on 2nd February 2016):
Landlords beware. February 1 saw legislation come into force which means fines of £3,000 per tenant can be levied for renting property to somebody who isn’t allowed to rent in England.
New Right To Rent rules came into force on Monday, requiring private landlords to carry out detailed checks on the immigration status of prospective tenants before signing rental contracts with them.
This is to make sure they have the right to rent.
All future tenants will need to provide proof that they have this right by producing their passport or residence permit to landlords who are then required by law to make and retain copies of all documents provided.
Fines will be imposed on landlords for any breech and will apply per tenant.
Checks will only be valid if carried out 28 days before a tenancy agreement starts and will apply to anyone over the age of 18 proposing to live in the property.
Everyone must be checked regardless of nationality – so if you were born and brought up in Britain, do not expect to be exempt.
The new rules are part of the Immigration Act 2014 and are intended to prevent rogue landlords from exploiting immigrants.
I understand the law will be introduced to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at a later date.
It has been claimed in some quarters that it will make it harder to rent accommodation for people with foreign sounding names but this should not be the case, provided both landlords and tenants understand the new rules.
What the new law will do is clamp down on rogue landlords who allow groups of people without the correct papers to rent property they own.
In some cases overcrowding occurs too. Landlords who are prepared to rent to illegal immigrants rarely stop there. Often they charge extortionate rents and are less likely to keep the property up to the required standards.
Those people with the right to be in Britain should not be affected by this latest legislation. In fact, most will benefit from it.
The most important thing for landlords is to understand the new legislation so I would advise anyone who is currently letting property or anyone intending on doing so to read the act themselves and then ask a suitably qualified, and importantly, insured, letting agent, to handle the letting for them.
Protecting oneself from severe penalties for not obeying the law is the responsibility of the individual landlord, so be warned.
New legislation regarding stamp duty will start in April 2016 and will add extra costs to landlords so perhaps we will ultimately see a slowing of people investing in residential property for rental.
One aspect of the new act which many landlords may not be aware of is that tenants who rely on housing benefit will lose their funding if they leave the UK for more than a month.
As I say it’s important to understand current and proposed legislation as not obeying the rules can be expensive.
Read the original article here