OMG (Oh My Gosh/ God for the old school peeps), said one of our tenants signing up last Saturday!! This is when they saw the load of paperwork they had to sign. Gone are the days when you could just ask for a word of mouth referral, collect a copy of a Tenancy Agreement from the local WH Smith and Bob’s your tenant (or is it??).
Amongst the hoard of documents I had were the Right to Rent Guide, copy of the Energy Performance Certificate, a current Gas Cert, an Electric Report, a Schedule of Conditions and Inventory, Prescribed Information and Terms & Conditions of the deposit scheme where the deposit was registered/ kept plus a few other bits…so the sharp intake of breath was understandable.
Amongst the documents I had asked the tenants to bring with them were copies of their passports or in this case, as they were from the Czech Republic, their identity cards. They couldn’t understand the need for this as they were renting previously with a private landlord who had not asked for anything of the sort when they took a tenancy about 12 months ago. Although, we Walsall landlords are familiar with the ‘Right to Rent’ checks (having been one of the pilot areas since it was first introduced in December 2014), since the beginning of February 2016 this has now been rolled out to the rest of the country. As it has been a while I thought I would use this week’s blog post as an opportunity to refresh and inform about some of the salient points in my usual way.
For those Walsall buy-to-let landlords that don’t know, property landlords will need to check the immigration status of any new tenants moving into rented properties – or face a £3,000 fine.
It is called the ‘Right to Rent’ rules. However, tenants should also be aware that as well as traditional landlords, tenants who sub-let rooms and homeowners who take in lodgers, must also check the right of prospective tenants to reside in the UK.
So how much of an issue is the ‘Right to Rent’ and how does it affect Walsall landlords and the Walsall Property Market?
From the last available figures I was able to find (about a year ago) show that 396 people (whom were registered as Non-UK Born Short-term Residents) moved into private rented accommodation in the Walsall Council area alone.
If all of those people weren’t supposed to be in the UK, that would be a fine of £1,188,000 to the landlords of the Town.
It doesn’t sound a lot when you think there are 269,323 residents in Walsall, and of those, 26,600 people (or 9.9%) were born outside of the UK. But Walsall is a becoming more and more a cosmopolitan town, as the most reported country of birth of the residents in Walsall can be split down as follows:
Middle East and Asia 3.31%
Americas and Caribbean 0.55%
Oceania & Antarctica region 0.04%
However, it must also be recognised by landlords that by checking up on private rented sector tenants, you could potentially be accused of discrimination under the Equality Act. This is a real minefield for Walsall landlords, especially when you consider that not all of the 10,700 Europeans in the area necessarily have the right to live in the UK either.
Property landlords in Walsall will need to check and retain copies of certain documents that show a potential tenant has the right to live in the UK. These include:
- UK Passport
- EEA Passport/Identity card
- Travel document or Permanent Residence Card showing indefinite leave to remain
- Paperwork from Home Office stating their Immigration status
- Certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.
It is an onerous and arduous task which some may argue that it’s not really our job. If the border control officials did their role effectively then perhaps we shouldn’t have to. Having said that, this is here to stay whether we like it or not. I do hope the new law will target any dishonest landlords who repeatedly fail to carry out ‘Right to Rent’ checks by making it a criminal offence. But all too often we have seen the honest and genuine mistakes of an individual being made an example of. That is why more and more Walsall landlords are asking professional Letting Agents to manage their rented properties, so they can stay the right side of the law.
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