Thursday, 13 August 2020

Do you have the right to rent?

Title, man with luggageSince February 2016 it has been a legal requirement for landlords in England to check their prospective tenants or lodgers have the right to live in the UK. A landlord’s failure to undertake these checks is a criminal offence, which can lead to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine - so they will want to do them! 

As such, all individuals over the age of 18 wanting to live in a property that they or a family member don’t own, will be asked to provide certain documentation to prove they have the ‘Right to Rent’. The most commonly valid document that can be used is a passport or identity card from a European nation. Whilst these don’t need to be in date to prove your birthplace and thus residency status (assuming the photo is still a good likeness of the individual), what about those estimated 9 million+ Brits who don’t have a passport? 

They certainly do have the right to rent, but the law states that proof needs to be provided and a copy taken accordingly. A driving licence can be used (the second most readily available form of ID) but only in conjunction with another ‘acceptable document’. A birth certificate counts as one of these, as do a variety of letters from official sources, all of which can prove relatively difficult to get a hold of.

Of course, not everyone has the right to rent, otherwise the checks would be pointless. Non-EU citizens typically need to apply for permission to stay in the country (and thus the right to rent a property). These individuals will normally be provided with a dated visa, which provides them with a time-limited right to rent. Proof that this date has been extended when the time comes will need to be provided to the landlord / letting agent to stay within the law.

I currently have the unfortunate situation as a landlord whereby my tenants’ visa has expired. Originally valid until the end of May, with the expectation of it being extended (as it had been several times before), the tenant’s work contract was not renewed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant his visa would not be extended and thus he has to leave the country (albeit a grace period has been granted due to the ongoing travel restrictions).

It is sad to see a decent family no longer allowed in the country, whilst it also means I’ll lose a good paying tenant and have an uncertain wait for when they can actually leave.

The above situation also illustrates why the right to rent checks have been called discriminatory against those without a UK passport (providing them with unlimited right to rent and, importantly, proof!). A High Court ruling last year proclaimed the Right to Rent checks were discriminatory and breach human right laws. This is why proposals to extend the law to the landlords of Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland were put on hold, although landlords and letting agents in England are still required to follow the legislation as is. 

This article was featured in...

Chichester rental valuation

No comments:

Post a Comment