Understanding the right to rent

The “right to rent” was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014 (2014 Act) and cemented in July 2016 by the Immigration Act 2016 (2016 Act).

So residential landlords are clear on the new legislation and what it means to them and their rental properties, we’ve covered the following:
 
What is the “right to rent”?
What are the “right to rent” checks?
Who should carry out the right to “right to rent” checks?
Should all tenant be subject to a “right to rent”?
What are the penalties if a landlord doesn’t carry out the “right to rent” checks?
What you need to do if none of your tenants have a “right to rent”
What you need to do if some of your tenants have a “right to rent”
 

What is the “right to rent”?

The “right to rent” means that some people are “disqualified as a result of their immigration status” from renting most types of UK property (there are limited exceptions, such as some social housing). Effectively, it means that only people who are “lawfully present” (have permission to be) in the UK can rent most types of residential accommodation.

What are the “right to rent” checks?

The checks means that a landlord who rents out residential property must check that a tenant has the “right to rent” by:

  • checking they have the right documents to prove they have permission to be in the UK and
  • making follow up checks when the right expires or within 12 months, whichever is latest

The checks apply to most tenancies, even those entered into before the law came into action.

Who should carry out the right to “right to rent” checks?

It is a landlord’s responsibility/duty to check that a tenant has the “right to rent” the landlord’s property.
However, in view of the complexity of the rules and documentation around immigration status many landlords appoint agents to carry out checks on their behalf.

Should all tenant be subject to a “right to rent”?

Yes, the Home Office advises that landlords

  • check all adults (over 18’s and irrespective of “perceived nationality”)
  • who will live at the your property as their main or only home
  • irrespective of whether or not they are named on the tenancy agreement.

What are the penalties if a landlord doesn’t carry out the “right to rent” checks?

Under the 2014 Act landlords who neglected to carry out the checks could be fined.
However, the 2016 Act makes it a criminal offence where a landlord rents a property to someone who

  • does not have the “right to rent” and
  • knows or has “reasonable cause” to believe that this is so.

Effectively, a landlord could now be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 5 years.

What you need to do if none of your tenants have a “right to rent”

If it is discovered that none of the tenants renting your property have a “right to rent” then you can legally evict. Landlords can immediately serve tenants who are not legally allowed to rent property in the UK a 28-day notice to quit and the tenant loses all rights under legislation in place to protect tenants.
If the tenants have not left the property by the end of the notice period, landlords can instruct an enforcement officer to use reasonable force to remove the tenants without the need for a court order.

What you need to do if some of your tenants have a “right to rent”

If only some of your tenants have the “right to rent” then landlords will need to evict tenants depending on the type of tenancy agreement in place. Agreements under the Housing Act 1988 mean landlords can evict using a Section 8 notice citing ground 7B, giving 14 days’ notice. After the notice period, landlords can then begin court proceedings to determine whether the tenant can be evicted. If an order is granted, an enforcement officer can be instructed to evict on your behalf.
If your tenants hold a joint agreement, but only some tenants have the “right to rent”, then you may need to transfer the agreement to the tenants that are legally allowed to reside in the UK via court proceedings.
The team at Able Investigations and Enforcements are happy to discuss the “right to rent” checks and explain how they can help you evict those who are not legally allowed to rent a residential property in the UK. To find out more about our enforcement agency in Bristol and how we can help, please call us on 0845 3707 401.

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