Updated right-to-rent guidance 'not clear enough'

by Gary Whittaker

The government's latest guidance for landlords on the right-to-rent checks they should carry out on Commonwealth citizens are not clear enough, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). 

Updated information has been issued via the government's own website in the wake of the Windrush affair, in response to the issue of Commonwealth citizens who have been living in the UK for many years but do not currently have any documents to prove their status. 

The right-to-rent rules place the onus on landlords to check whether any prospective new tenant who is not a British national has the right to live in the UK, a status granted in 1973 to Commonwealth citizens who had emigrated to the UK, most notably from the Caribbean. 

Landlords are advised of the situation pertaining to the Windrush generation and given a helpline to call if they have any concern with another number being available for tenants. 

The RLA, however, has argued that the information given is "inadequate", adding: "The government should deal properly with Commonwealth citizens, who have a right to be in the [UK] anyway." 

This view echoes the long-held opinion of the RLA that the right-to-rent rules place too much emphasis on the actions of the landlord, making them bear legal liability if someone who is not legally allowed to reside in the UK manages to rent a property. 

Speaking recently to the Independent, RLA policy director David Smith accused the government of making landlords "scapegoats" for shortcomings in immigration controls.

He added: "It is time to suspend this controversial and unwelcome policy."

The RLA is supporting a legal attempt by the Joint Council on the Welfare of Immigrants to overturn the rules.

Among the major concerns about the rules is that the fear of falling foul of them will deter some landlords from offering rental accomodation to people from overseas or who are not obviously British citizens. 

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26-April-18Legal News