Government failing landlords on Right to Rent

Seven in 10 landlords do not understand their obligations under controversial new “right to rent” rules that oblige them to check new tenants’ immigration statuses.

New “right to rent” rules, brought in last Monday under the Immigration Act 2014, essentially mean landlords must carry out a government-approved check on all prospective tenants to confirm that they have a right to live in the UK.

In practice, this means landlords must see original documents for each tenant proving their right to live here, then make a copy of them, and make subsequent checks at a later date if the tenant’s original “permission to stay” was limited.

Tenants who fail these later checks must be reported to the Home Office. Landlords who fail to do any of this will be fined up to £3,000. A new Immigration Bill currently going through Parliament proposes jail sentences of up to five years for people who fail to carry out these checks.

But according to a survey of more than 1,500 landlords by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), nine out of 10 landlords have received no information from the government, while 44 per cent will only rent to those with documents that are familiar to them.

Dr David Smith, policy director at the RLA, said: “The government argues that its ‘right to rent’ plans form part of a package to make the UK a more hostile environment for illegal immigrants. The evidence shows that it is creating a more hostile environment for good landlords and legitimate tenants.”

The scheme was piloted in the Midlands before the nationwide roll-out. Over the course of six months, 109 people living in the UK illegally were identified thanks to the new checks.

It emerged in August that just seven landlords involved in the pilot scheme had been issued notices, and they faced average fines of £800.