Agents and landlords tut at the mere mention of this legislation whereby during the course of letting a property, we are expected to act as border agency and whistleblower or else face a fine of up to £3,000! The reality of this legislation is that many of the required identity and visa checks were already being done by our Lettings offices as part of existing anti-money laundering regulations and added due to diligence to protect our clients should visas not be renewed within the term of the tenancy. That is to say, we have been taking and verifying tenants’ passports already and ensuring that visa lengths match the ability for landlords and tenants to serve notice to end the tenancy.
Right to rent checks under the Immigration Act 2014 are mandatory throughout England for all tenancies starting on or after the 1st of February 2016. Failure to comply is currently a civil offence but there is further discussion in parliament to make failure to comply a criminal offence.
In summary, the a landlord may not allow an adult to occupy (whether as a tenant or as a permitted occupier) a property under a residential tenancy agreement unless they satisfy one of three criteria:
- The adult is a British Citizen; or
- They are an EEA or Swiss National; or
- They have a right to rent in the UK (ie: a valid visa)
If the tenant should sub-let, whether lawfully or unlawfully, they will become the responsible person for undertaking these checks which means that providers of serviced apartments take on this responsibility. Also if the tenancy is a company let for the company’s employees the onus will be on the company to check. This leaves some loopholes in the law which are open to abuse.
For those with a time limited visa, provided this expires after the tenancy has started then the tenant has the right to rent for 12 months. Landlords and their agents must do a follow up check to request the renewal visa and if proof of this is not forthcoming then a detailed report must be submitted to the Home Office.
At Hurford Salvi Carr we are set up to be fully compliant with this legislation on behalf of our clients and will undertake to verify the Right to Rent status and monitor is throughout the tenancy as part of our service to clients. We are not worried about this legislation and you shouldn’t be either if you instruct our lettings offices to represent you.