Most landlords may be aware of the Right To Rent scheme that was introduced last December in five areas (Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Dudley). This requires landlords to verify that a potential tenant has the right to legally live in the UK by checking their passport or biometric residence permit.
This is now being rolled out across the rest of England in the coming months and is part of a new shake up under the upcoming Immigration Bill.
Why have the new laws been introduced?
The new laws have been designed to make it harder for migrants to live in the UK when they have no right to be in the country, as well as tackle “rogue landlords” who house immigrants in unsafe and overcrowded properties.
They also cover some of the existing legislation relating to landlords maintaining their properties and keeping them in good repair in a bid to shut down bad landlords.
How will these new rules affect landlords?
Apart from the Right To Rent scheme, there is also new legislation that landlords need to comply with. Let’s take a look at how landlords could be affected …
Prison for failing to carry out the right checks
Landlords who fail to carry out the necessary checks under the Right To Rent scheme could face fines of up to £3,000 and, for repeat offenders, five years imprisonment.
Potential eviction costs
According to Government news, the new legislation will enable landlords to evict illegal immigrant tenants more easily. The Home Office will issue a notice stating that the tenant no longer has a right to rent in the UK, which will trigger the eviction. The landlord is then expected to take action to ensure that the illegal immigrant tenant or occupant leaves their property.
For landlords, not only may there be the potential eviction costs (it is unclear yet whether these will be covered by the Government or the landlord) but they will have costs associated with finding a new tenant.
Reputable landlords may also find it distasteful to evict someone without a Court Order.
Hurt feelings and claims of discrimination
Under these new rules, landlords may be treading a thin line between being seen as zealously checking a tenant’s right to rent to being seen as discriminating against someone. A prospective tenant who is refused tenancy could face an award in the region of £6,600 for “injury to feelings”.
Some commentators within the industry believe that the new legislation will see landlords only renting to white, British tenants, sending other non-white tenants to ‘underground’ landlords - enabling the latter to exploit them.
Whatever happens, landlords need to make sure they keep on the right side of the law and perhaps build in contingency funds to their business to cover any unexpected eviction costs.
More information for landlords on the Right To Rent scheme is available on the Government website. Landlords should also read the Code of Practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation and, the Code of practice for landlords: avoiding unlawful discrimination when conducting ‘right to rent’ checks in the private rented residential sector.