Right to Rent: increased fines lead to more checks 

Posted on 25 June 2024
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Right to Rent: increased fines lead to more checks 

Right to Rent: increased fines lead to more checks 

When Right to Rent checks became mandatory, there was some backlash in the private rental sector. Landlords and letting agents claimed they’d unfairly become an extension of Border Control. 

Now, eight years after the lawful requirement’s introduction, the industry takes the additional layer of compliance in its stride. In fact, new research by Credas Technologies found there has been a 577% year-on-year jump in the number of Right to Rent checks carried out. 

The surge in Right to Rent checks is thought to be a result of the Government’s increasing focus on compliance within the private rental sector. This is driven by a recent and substantial increase in how much those who fail to fulfil their duty can be fined, as well as the continued growth of the rental market.   

If you are new to lettings and are still getting to grips with compliance, you may find the following Right to Rent Q and As useful:- 

What are Right to Rent checks?

Right to Rent checks were introduced by the Conservative Government to deter people who do not have a legal right to live in England from residing and remaining in the country. The Government says those who have a legitimate right to live in England should easily be able to prove this with the correct paperwork.

Landlords, or their letting agents/property managers/affiliates, are thought to be good ‘gatekeepers’ in terms of checking the validity of immigration documents. They are required to check the identity of new tenants and keep copies of the submitted paperwork.  

 Are Right to Rent checks a legal requirement?

Yes. Conducting a Right to Rent check on a tenant has been a legal requirement since February 2016. Right to Rent checks are part of the Immigration Act 2014, and are designed to create a fairer and more effective immigration system. The law also applies to those who sub let a residential property and those who take in a lodger. 

What UK tenants does the check apply to?

Every single tenants’ documents need checking to ensure they have the right to reside in the country before they enter into a tenancy agreement. It is actually a form of discrimination for landlords, letting agents or their affiliates to only check those they believe are not a British Citizen. All those living in a private rental need checking, even if they’re not named on the tenancy agreement or if the rental arrangement is an informal one. If in doubt, consult with the Government’s official Right to Rent guide.

Who has permission to carry out Right to Rent checks?

Ultimately, the requirement to perform a Right to Rent status check falls to the landlord but a letting agent or other property professional, including our Viewbers, can make the checks on a landlord’s behalf

What can happen if I don’t conduct Right to Rent checks?

Landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s Right to Rent can be harshly punished. On 13th February 2024, the financial penalty for landlords and letting agents who failed to comply with the rules increased to up to £20,000. In the most serious of cases, a landlord could be sent to prison for up to five years. An article in Property Industry Eye in May 2024 claimed there has been a rise in Right to Rent fines issued to agents this year, with ‘Q1 2024 recording £165,680, which is greater than the whole of 2023 (£151,480.)’

 Do Right to Rent checks have to be conducted in person?

Although some tenants may have an online ‘share code’ that can be checked, the majority of Right to Rent checks take the form of a landlord, letting agent or an affiliate inspecting the tenant’s original documents in person. Those conducting the checks will need to confirm that the tenant has the valid, authentic documents to prove they can live in the country, using a pre-set Government list as a guide. It’s worth noting that in October 2022, the Government scrapped the ability for landlords and letting agents to check documents via email, placing greater emphasis on in-person verification.

Can I send a Viewber to conduct Right to Rent checks on my behalf?

Yes! Our UK-wide Viewber network has the full training to make Right to Rent and other document checks on the behalf of letting agents and landlords. A Right to Rent check can be performed in tandem with other Viewber services, such as a property visit or inspection. A Right to Rent check can also be booked as a stand-alone service. When a Viewber conducts a Right to Rent check, they will take a compliant, good quality photographs of any documents and will flag up any concerns without delay.

Do you need help with a R2R checks? Viewber is here to support Landlords, Letting Agents and Property Managers in keeping their lets legal. Involve us at every stage of a tenancy and you’ll simplify compliance, and reduce the number of times you need to meet with tenants and visit buy-to-lets.

Contact us to learn more. 

 

 

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