The Government has announced that, from 1 February 2016, all private landlords in England, including those who sub-let or take in lodgers, must check the right of prospective tenants to be in the countrybefore they rent out their property to them. Under the new rules, landlords who fail to check a potential tenant’s ‘Right to Rent’ will face penalties of up to £3,000 per tenant.

Right to Rent was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014 as part of the government’s reforms to build a fairer and more effective immigration system. The first phase was launched in parts of the West Midlands and this latest announcement is the next stage of the scheme’s national roll out.

Under Right to Rent, landlords should check identity documents for all new tenants and take copies. The scheme has been designed to make it straightforward for people to give evidence of their right to rent and a range of commonly available documents can be used. The checks are backed up by codes of practice – including guidance on avoiding unlawful discrimination which was drawn up with the assistance of the Human Rights Commission.

If a potential tenant has an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, landlords can conduct a check on that person’s ‘right to rent’ via the Landlords’ Checking Service.

Commenting on the new laws, Martin Codd, head of the property entrepreneur group at Penningtons Manches, said: “Although the overall objective of the plan is understandable given the shortage of housing and the Government’s desire to curb the overall number of immigrants, the West Midlands’ six month pilot scheme only identified 63 new illegal migrants suggesting that the new rules might be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It's also difficult to understand why landlords - or their letting agents - should be asked to police the Government’s immigration controls.” 

Find out more about making Right to Rent checks here.