Immigration Update– October 2015

On 20 October 2015 the government announced the planned extension of the pilot Right to Rent scheme will come into force on 1 February 2016. Under the new rules all private landlords in England will have to check prospective tenants (including all adult occupiers of the property) have the right to rent before renting out their property.

When making the announcement Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:

“The new rules are part of the Immigration Act 2014 which introduced measures to reform the immigrations system. Right to rent is about deterring those who are illegally resident from remaining in the UK. Those with a legitimate right to be here will be able to prove this easily and will not be adversely affected.”

It is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to 3,000 to let a property to a “disqualified person”. A person is disqualified from occupying a property if they are:

• Not a “relevant national”, which is further defined as a British citizen, a national of an EEA state or a national of Switzerland; and

• Do not have a right to rent in relation to the Property. A person does not have a right to rent if they require leave to enter or remain in the UK and do not have it, or have leave but it is subject to conditions that prevent them from occupying the premises.

The previous online right to rent checker is only available for those in the pilot area, all other landlords will need to inspect original documents provided by their prospective tenants to ascertain whether they have the right to rent. The Home Office have produced two Lists A & B of documents which will be sufficient to evidence a person’s right to rent. These lists can be obtained here.

Where a person cannot provide one of the documents contained in either list, but maintains they have a right to rent, a landlord can request online that the Home Office carry out a right to rent check. The Landlord will receive a clear “yes” or “no” response within two working days from the date of the request.

Additionally, a landlord must ensure that a person’s right to occupy does not lapse during the course of the tenancy. The Home Office has recently published a guide for landlords on the right to rent, which helpfully clarifies the uncertainty surrounding what level of repeat checks are needed throughout the tenancy agreement.

In order to satisfy the ongoing obligation a landlord must note the expiry date of a person’s right to be in the UK, when doing his initial checks and then diarise a follow up check for a date shortly before the expiry date, or 12 months from the date of the initial check whichever is longer.

The guidance is reasonably well drafted and covers a wide range of areas. Click here for a copy of the guidance.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact Lee Pearce or Joe Brightman.

Correct as of 28 October 2015