FEBRUARY 01, 2016 | BY A & S Property
Right to Rent goes live
The controversial Right to Rent scheme has affected fresh criticism on the day it goes live.
From today, 1 February, landlords are required to check a tenant’s immigration status before granting a tenancy and risk fines of up to £3,000 if they let to someone without the right to live in the UK.
However, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) claims more than 90% of landlords have received no information from the Government on their new legal duty to check the immigration status of their tenants.
Commenting, Dr David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA said: “The Government argues that it’s ‘right to rent’ plans form part of a package to make the UK a more hostile environment for illegal immigrants. The evidence shows that it is creating a more hostile environment for good landlords and legitimate tenants.
“Landlords are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Fearful of a fine they face two difficult ways forward. They can play it safe, and take a restrictive view with prospective tenants, potentially causing difficulties for the 12 million UK citizens without a passport. Alternatively, they may target certain individuals to conduct the checks, opening themselves up to accusations of racism.
Meanwhile figures obtained from the Home Office by law firm Simpson Millar show that just nine civil penalties were issued to landlords under the Right to Rent pilot between 1 December 2014 and 19 November 2015.
“Given that the pilot covered an area with more than 2 million people it is hard to see how the scheme has had any significant financial impact at all. Rather, it has the potential to create a culture of fear and discrimination,” says Sumita Gupta, head of immigration at Simpson Millar in Manchester.
“There will be rogue landlords who won’t care about undertaking the required document checks; they could view this new scheme as an opportunity to exploit a very vulnerable group of people who might otherwise find it difficult to secure accommodation and end up homeless.”