91 landlords hit with civil penalties as year 1 of Right to Rent comes to a close

91 landlords have been hit with fines following the introduction of the Right to Rent Scheme across England last year.
The scheme, first trialled in the West Midlands then rolled out throughout England in February 2016, aims to combat illegal immigration by ensuring those letting property check tenants’ right to rent beforehand.
The latest figures reveal many landlords and letting agents have done so – the Home Office has responded to almost 6,000 queries via the Landlord Checking Service alone since the scheme was introduced. But the figures also show some landlords are still failing to conduct proper checks.

Landlords and letting agents fined almost £30,000

91 civil penalties were handed out during in phase 2 of the program, a significant increase on the 15 handed out during phase 1. The penalties have so far cost landlords, letting agents and homeowners £29,575.
The fines highlight the need for proper tenant referencing – especially as what counts as appropriate varies depending on a tenant’s country of origin.
To make life even more difficult for landlords, the scheme is set to be rolled out UK-wide – despite an element of opposition. Critics believe Right to Rent checks could make it difficult for legal migrants to find housing and that the checks may lead to marginalisation.

A legal requirement, regardless of nationality

In response, the government highlights the fact that all tenants must be checked, regardless of nationality, and that the checks are designed to reduce illegal immigration. The fact the scheme has triggered deportations adds credibility to their argument.
It’s against this backdrop that the government looks set to roll the scheme out to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the coming months – potentially before beginning departure from the European Union.

“No appeals”

“During phase 1 of the scheme, 15 landlords were issued with a civil penalty. Since the start of phase 2 of the scheme, 91 landlords have been issued with a civil penalty. All were first time penalties. 55 related to lodgers in a private household and 51 related to occupiers in rented accommodation” declared Robert Goodwill MP last week, in response to questioning.
“There have been no appeals under the scheme. The total amount collected from the scheme up to 13 December 2016 is £29,575.31.”
Departure from the EU looks set to cause further confusion as the rules – already difficult to comprehend – look set to adapt and change.
Until that time, landlords and letting agents are advised to proceed with caution when letting properties to new tenants, regardless of nationality. Proper tenant referencing was once best practice. It’s now a legal requirement.

Credit checks, fraud checks and employment referencing

As you’d expect, Legal for Landlords tenant referencing vets all new tenants across numerous criteria.
As well as ensuring tenants have the legal right to rent, our service checks credit histories, undisclosed addresses and fraud as standard.
Different levels of service mean we can check employment status, income, affordability and previous landlord references should you wish.
You get clear documentation and complete peace of mind. Which, at a time of ongoing confusion and financial penalties, is a bonus for both landlords and letting agents alike.

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