Landlords “suffering chronic lack of information” – Right to Rent
Nearly three-quarters of private residential landlords in the UK don’t understand the implications of the government’s new Right to Rent scheme – that was the shocking statistic unveiled by Mark Lilley-Tams, an immigration law solicitor at Paragon Law, at an exclusive seminar held in Nottingham recently.
The seminar, entitled – Right to Rent: do landlords need to become immigration officers?- drew a crowd of 40 local residential property figures. Mark, together with Ali Baylav, CEO of residential lettings agency Cavendish Lettings, gave a presentation and answered questions about the new scheme, which became law on 1st February 2016, meaning that all private landlords in England will have to check that tenants have the right to be in the UK. This is a further roll-out of the Right to Rent scheme introduced by the Immigration Act 2014, the first phase of which has been piloted in the West Midlands since December 2014.
However, as Mark Lilley-Tams pointed out, landlords are being asked to do something they might not necessarily understand.
“This is a complicated piece of legislation, and it will take time for the dust to settle,” he said. “Right to Rent is part of the government’s package of legislation to create a hostile enviroment for illegal immigrants that includes removing the right to open bank accounts and having driving lessons.
“However, landlords are also suffering from a chronic lack of information from the government,” added Mark. “Latest figures show that 9 per cent of residential landlords have received no information about Right to Rent and what they need to do. Neither are landlords clear what sort of guidance is needed. It’s a very muddled picture right now.”
Ali Baylav added: “We represent over 450 landlords, and when we last checked, not one of them had received any correspondence from the Home Office aimed at explaining Right to Rent – I find that incredible.”
Mark said: “Evidencing the right to be in the UK is a difficult process given the wide array of different documents available to prove this and landlords are generally not experts on immigration law. Delays in proving the right to rent can be expensive and time consuming for landlords and that is before you factor in the risk of civil fines, imprisonment and even uncapped discrimination claims if they make a mistake or fail to correctly store the documents they rely upon.
“To assist landlords and letting agents we have introduced our Right2Rent service which allows us to take on legal responsibility for carrying out these checks and storing documentation. The feedback we have from the pilot area is that landlords really do not feel comfortable with this added responsibility of carrying out immigration checks and the threat of criminal sanctions will not make this burden any easier.”
For those of you who would like to see the slides which accompanied the presentation then they are available here: Right to Rent Breakfast Briefing Slides