From 1 February 2016 the Right to Rent obligations under the Immigration Act 2014 will be extended to the whole of England.
From this date, landlords of residential properties are prohibited from allowing certain people, based on their immigration status, to occupy their properties. There are various status an individual can have; some may have a time limited Right to Rent only and the onus will be on the landlord to ascertain the relevant status. British citizens, EEA and Swiss nationals and individuals with indefinite leave to remain in the UK have a permanent, unlimited Right to Rent.
Reasonable enquiries must be made of and in relation to adult tenants and other adult occupiers to ascertain whether they have a right to occupy the property before a tenancy is granted. Subsequent checks must be made if an individual has a time-limited Right to Rent, and a report must be made to the Home Office where an occupier’s Right to Rent has ceased. Children fall outside of the requirements where the landlord, occupier or householder is satisfied they are under 18, but where they reach 18 during the tenancy checks must be carried out when repeat checks are required or if the tenancy is renegotiated.
As well as landlords, agents or householders who are letting, or even sub-letting, private rented accommodation, including taking in a lodger, are caught by these provisions, and this is the case even where there is no written tenancy agreement. Where there is a contravention of the obligations, a landlord who cannot establish a statutory excuse defence will not face criminal charges but will be liable to a financial penalty of up to £3,000.
This new legislation places onerous obligations on landlords and the rules are complex.