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Why Right to Rent law puts unfair burden on landlords

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Shockerz Lee - flickrMany landlords remain in the dark about new legislation which came into force earlier this month that requires them to check the immigration status of all their tenants.

The Right to Rent rules require landlords and letting agents to ensure every prospective tenant has a right to live in the UK.

With the risk of a £3000 fine per illegal tenant or up to five years in jail for not complying with this new legislation, it is vital that landlords are aware of their responsibility.

It is now a landlord’s duty to check identification documents, such as passports, to ensure the person wishing to rent the property matches the details given, as well as being certain that they have the right to live in the UK. The government also expects landlords to keep a copy of their documentation for a certain period of time.

And should a landlord discover an existing tenant does not have the right to remain in the UK, the government is demanding they end the tenancy, even when there is no court order, and report the tenant or tenants to the authorities.

The crackdown, which many assume is as a result of the migrant crisis in Calais, is the latest in a long line of demands that the government is making on landlords.

During a pilot scheme to test the new law, which ran in the West Midlands, prosecutions were launched against seven landlords.

The test period for the new legislation, which began in December last year, has been hailed as a success by the government, but those seven landlords prosecuted were only fined £800 and only 11 illegal immigrants have so far been found to be renting properties.

And research by The Economist shows that during the pilot scheme no direct evidence was uncovered to suggest that landlords are knowingly renting their properties to illegal immigrants. What’s more, in four out of 10 cases prospective tenants without the right to remain in the UK were denied tenancies by landlords.

This research led many to demand that the legislation be scrapped immediately. The argument is that given the statistics, Right to Rent is doomed to fail and only place more unnecessary strain on law abiding landlords.

David Smith, of the Residential Landlords Association, has previously said: “The government has not presented any evidence that landlords are directly involved in housing people they know to be illegal immigrants… Any decision on roll out should await the publication of the West Midlands evaluation.”

However, a Home Office spokesman has said that Right to Rent is not a money making scheme designed to catch out honest landlords. He says the legislation is a set of rules to help landlords carry out the necessary checks on those who should not be here by law and therefore do not have the right to rent accommodation.

Assetgrove was established to help landlords in the day to day running of their property empire.

We can help out with legal issues, such as the Right to Rent legislation, find you the perfect tenant, guarantee that the rent is paid on time and much more.

Being a landlord is more difficult than it used to be thanks to more recent government legislation. But we can help you get on top of all as we are experts in the buy to let field. For more information, please contact our friendly team.

IMAGE CREDIT Shockerz Lee/Flickr

Neil Jennings

Neil is the Operations Director at Assetgrove Lettings, London's Leading Rent Guarantee Company, providing Landlords with no voids, property maintenance, fee-free property management and stress-free service.

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