Right to Rent – What Landlords Need to Know

by Ed Firmin


Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 at 12:12



Right to Rent

If you are a Canterbury landlord, you have surely seen some disturbing news stories popping up in the media over the past year regarding your duty to ensure that your tenants legally have a ‘right to rent’ properties in this country.

As of February 2016, landlords across the country now have a responsibility to thoroughly check their tenants’ paperwork, not only for good credit and other things that affect their ability to pay rent, but also to ensure that they hold the relevant immigration or visa status to let a property.

What happens if you fail to do so? You will be hit with fines and penalties that can total up to £3000. This is no small sum – and fines like these have been levied against landlords already.

A case study in the West Midlands 

Certain districts in the West Midlands (including Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley) enacted this policy in December of 2014, and landlords are already being indicted for their failure to check their tenants’ immigration status. In June of 2015 at least one West Midlands landlord was fighting over £2000 in fines levied against them for this infraction. Don’t let this happen to you in Canterbury.

Who has the right to rent in the UK?

  • British nationals
  • European Union passport holders
  • Swiss nationals
  • A non EU resident with a relevant visa (student, spouse, work)

Be careful – you need to be thorough and straightforward when it comes to asking for this information, and ask every tenant, regardless of whether you think they are British or not. As Charles Russell Speechlys spokesperson Anne-Marie Balfour has said, “landlords need to tread a fine line between immigration compliance and avoiding race discrimination.” Someone who feels that they have been discriminated against can sue their landlord 2010 Equality Act, and awards can be steep.

Whether you think that this policy unfairly puts you on the hook for something that government officials should be enforcing, it seems that – at least for now – you will definitely be held responsible should your tenants turn out to be in the UK illegally.

 Why relying on a letting agent is the way to go

Thankfully, as a landlord in the UK you have a very attractive option that will help you to prevent this from happening to you – letting agents. A professional and trusted letting agent can take this stress off of your shoulders and help you rest easy that you will not be on the hook for these fines.

When clients rent properties through letting agents they are accustomed to providing extensive documentation, and are less likely to feel targeted based on their nationality. Letting agents will find you reliable, trustworthy and honest tenants who have a proven track record as renters and who definitely have a ‘right to rent.’
Don’t let a documentation error cost you thousands of pounds – trust a letting agent to help you fill your property with the best tenants in Canterbury.

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