Calling all Marylebone landlords... Prepare yourselves for the upcoming `Right to Rent` checks!

Date Published 04 January 2016

Well we've all seen it on the news and some of us are clearer, on the upcoming 'Right to Rent' immigrations checks, than others. For some it may seem a tedious question, but you would be surprised at just how many Marylebone landlords have recently rung up and plainly enquired: what exactly does this new legislation mean and how exactly will this affect my current as well as future property investments?

Well, the Home Office has announced a rollout across England (does not apply to Scotland & Wales at this present moment), in regards to 'Right to Rent' checks (as part of the Immigration Act 2014), which will become a legal obligation, starting from the 1st of February 2016 - literally a few weeks away! This comes as part of the government's plans of reform, in which the idea is that the immigration system will become fairer, more effective and widespread across all foreign nationals, who wish to reside within and rent property in England. As recently stated by the immigration minister, James Brokenshire: '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.' Under these new measures, landlords allowing a tenancy to commence after this date (1st February 2016), must show, if requested, evidence that they have witnessed and or obtained proof of identification from their tenants, prior to their moving in. Now we must stress that this is extremely important, as landlords who are deemed to have unsatisfactorily checked their potential tenant's right to be in the UK (their 'Right to Rent'), could be found liable for penalties of up to £3,000 - and that is per tenant! Very strict rules are in place here, so make sure you don't just sweep this one under the carpet; check even if you are 99% sure - that 1% could come back to bite you and your wallet! This also applies to landlords' agents (who are appointed by the landlord to make 'Right to Rent' checks), those subletting their properties as well as those taking in lodgers.

Some of the eligible documents that you can accept from your prospective tenants include:

• UK Passport
• EEA Passport or identity card
• Permanent residence card or a travel document, which illustrates an indefinite leave to remain in the country
• A Home Office document, which underlines the potential tenant's immigration status
• A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

In addition, I'd like to inform you that this is not a mere trial run or a temporary measure, but has already been piloted and rigorously tested in its initial phase, which occurred in the West Midlands for a period of 6 months. Although there were some reports of slight unrest surrounding potentially, troubling scenarios, where discrimination could be dished out against ethnic minorities, the final results illustrated that there was no inconsistency of procedure carried out towards different ethnicities; tenancy aspirations and the likelihood of finding a property to rent was shown to be of an equal, unbiased standard. The findings during these 6 months, included 109 people who were proved to be in Britain illegally and were identified, as a result of the compulsory checks carried out; 63 people from this total were previously, completely under the radar and were unknown to the Home Office. This element of success, demonstrated that the new renting procedures were very effective and consequently Home Office ministers have resoundingly approved and have given the go-ahead for the same obligatory standards to be carried out nationwide.

If you should require any more information, regarding the upcoming 'Right to Rent' checks, or on a more general note, concerning the property market, we am always more than happy to offer a second opinion.