As of February 1st this year, landlords up and down the United Kingdom found themselves lumped with a pretty sizeable load of newly-assigned responsibilities. For the first time, and for the indefinite future to say the least, it is now entirely the responsibility of landlords to ensure that their tenants are in fact legally entitled to rent their properties. Known as the ‘Right to Rent’ rule, no longer are landlords able to in any way turn a blind eye to the legality of their tenants’ residency in the United Kingdom.
Unsurprisingly, the change ruffled more than a few feathers across the country. Many a landlord and national inventory company alike responded quite strongly to the newly-imposed responsibilities, suggesting that it paves the way for landlords to be punished unfairly when dealing with dishonest tenants. Nevertheless, it’s a change that’s only just come into effect and isn’t going anywhere in the near future, so it’s crucial to comprehensively understand what responsibilities now fall with landlords.
Guidelines for Tenants
One plus point from the landlord’s perspective is the fact that the government has recently published an updated How to Rent guide, which was created to help tenants better understand both sides of the deal. It may assist in the on-going battle against unscrupulous landlords, while at the same time helping tenants understand their obligations.
Whether working alone or in conjunction with landlord inventory services UK, the change basically makes it the duty of the landlord to check their tenants’ right to rent before allowing them to move in. It’s a means by which to enhance the government’s efforts to gain better control over illegal immigration, making it difficult for illegals to find places to live. And in any instances where landlords are found to be housing illegal immigrants without having carried out the necessary checks, they will be liable for fines of up to £3,000 per occupant.
Making assumptions or taking the word of tenants at face value will no longer be sufficient. Instead, landlords are required to make the necessary checks, demand that the required identification be produced and maintain meticulous records for future inspection.
In this video Paul Shamplina – from Landlord Action – gives clear directions on the new Right to Rent immigration checks.
In terms of going about the document checks, it’s crucial for landlords to know both what it is they are looking for and how to keep the necessary records.
For example, all forms of ID produced to prove residency status must be approved documents, such as passports, visas and so on. No form of ID can be accepted if it isn’t recognised.
In addition to this, the documents must in every instance be the originals – photocopies are strictly prohibited. Landlords must then keep photocopies for their own records, but these should be taken from the original documents only.
If there is any doubt whatsoever as to either the authenticity of the documents or that the image is a true likeness of the individual, additional checks must be carried out before allowing tenancy. Documents should be cross-checked in detail.
All copies must be signed by both parties, dated and stored in a safe place, in case required at a later date.
The Home Office is also providing a telephone helpline to help landlords and tenants understand how these measures apply to them and how to carry out the right to rent checks. You can use this service by calling 0300 069 9799.
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