Right to Rent tally reaches 400 mark

by Gary Whittaker

The number of checks made by landlords under the government's Right to Rent rules has now topped the 400 mark. 

Home Office figures revealed that 405 checks had been made in England between the introduction of the new rules two years ago and the end of March this year. 

The rules oblige landlords to check that prospective tenants or lodgers have a right of residency in Britain by checking their documentation, which can include passports and ID cards. 

However, the rules have proved controversial, with many landlords unsure just what checks they need to make and concerned that they might fall foul of the legislation due to their lack of specialist knowledge of the immigration system. 

Getting it wrong can lead to landlords facing civil penalties of up to £3,000 or even a criminal prosecution resulting in a jail term, which may deter some from renting a home to non-UK nationals. 

According to the Home Office, dozens of landlords have been fined, but nobody has yet faced criminal prosecution. 

Reflecting on the figures, director of policy and practice at the National Landlords Association (NLA) Chris Norris said they "would seem to show that landlords are more aware of their responsibilities and are carrying out the required checks".

"However," he added, "it is important to remember that landlords are neither immigration experts nor border agents.

"The Right to Rent scheme has placed an additional cost on an already pressurised sector, while the excessive checks and lack of monitoring may have had harmful consequences for would-be and vulnerable tenants."

Controversy over Right to Rent has increased further amid concerns that members of the 'Windrush generation' could be among those denied accommodation. 

The lack of documentation held by some members of this group -Commonwealth citizens granted permanent residency in the early 1970s - could add to the problems already highlighted by the threats of deportation some have received. 

Following his predecessor Amber Rudd's resignation over the issue, the new home secretary Sajid Javid has faced calls from the NLA to review Right to Rent. 

The organisation wrote to him about the subject when his appointment was announced, suggesting that his previous experience as housing and communities secretary should help him understand the problems that can arise. 

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25-May-18General Lettings News