Residential Property Management – Autumn Roundup
Right to Rent – What Landlords Need to Know
In February 2016, one of the biggest changes to tenancy law in living memory comes into force, with the introduction of the ‘Right to Rent’.
Landlords of properties in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton are no strangers to this new law, having had to check that someone has the right to rent before letting them certain types of private rented accommodation since December 2014. From 1 February 2016, however this will become a legal obligation for landlords of properties throughout England. The wide reaching changes apply to anyone letting private rented accommodation or taking in a lodger albeit with some exemptions i.e. long leases, student accommodation to name just a couple, whether written or oral, and allow for financial penalties up to a maximum of £3,000 to be imposed on landlords, agents or householders who fail to perform the relevant checks. It also applies to tenants or occupiers who sub-let part or all of a property or take in a lodger in both private and social housing . There are also requirements to inform the Home Office in certain circumstances, as well as a provision for the eviction of ineligible tenants.
The Right to Rent Checks come into force under section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, which states that a landlord must not authorise an adult to occupy property as their only or main home under a residential tenancy agreement unless the adult is a British citizen, an EEA state national or Swiss national, or has the “right to rent” in the UK. Someone will have the “right to rent” in the UK provided they are present lawfully in accordance with immigration laws.
So what exactly do landlords need to know in order to stay compliant? The requirement for checks will apply to all persons over 18 who are residing in a property as their only or main home, regardless of whether they are named on the tenancy agreement, as well as against lodgers who live with homeowners.
There is provision in law for responsibility to be passed on to a letting agent working for the landlord and this will require some liaison between them. Agents who are not carrying out this responsibility will need to make sure that landlords with whom they work have a process in place. A key point here is that in order to avoid unwittingly becoming subject to a penalty, it should be made expressly clear in writing which party is to be responsible for the Right to Rent check being conducted.
Whilst the new law does introduce a significant new burden on landlords and agents, it is important to note that it only applies to new agreements entered into on or after February 1st 2016.
This is only a summary of the new law, more information on the Right to Rent and what it means for you can be obtained from the following resource:
Section 21 Notice – Change to Prescribed Form
A landlord wishing to use section 21(1) and (4) of the Housing Act 1988 to seek possession against a tenant occupying a property under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy created after the 1st October 2015 must serve the prescribed form of notice. Following an error in the original prescribed form 6A, the government has made an amendment so that for periodic tenancies which require more than two months’ notice, the form is valid for four months from the date after which possession could be required and not four months from the date of issue of the form.
The new form of Notice to be used in respect of new or renewed tenancies after 1st October 2015 is set out in the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015.