Right to Rent fines have soared – do you know the changes?

Right to Rent fines have soared – do you know the changes?
25th March 2024

Everyone occupying a rented property in England has to be checked to make sure they have the legal right to be in the UK and their immigration status doesn’t disqualify them from renting a property.

These checks can be made in a variety of ways and if we are letting the property for you, we will carry out these checks as part of the service offered:-

  • For British and Irish citizens:
  • For non-British and non-Irish citizens:
    • Obtaining original documents, such as a work visa or Home Office travel document (see the full list of acceptable documents here)
    • If they have an e-visa and a share code, verifying via the Home Office online service
    • If they do not have documents or a share code, using the Landlord Checking Service

Of course, one of the challenges for landlords is how to be sure that a document is genuine and valid, particularly if it’s unfamiliar. Another is knowing exactly what needs to be done to make sure you don’t fall foul of the law – particularly when the rules and guidance are constantly under review and regularly updated.

This year, there have already been two key changes to the Right to Rent rules that landlords should know about. If we are managing your property for you, we will be responsible for these checks.


1. Fines for non-compliance have soared

On 13th February, the maximum civil penalty that can be handed out to landlords and agents who breach the Right to Rent rules increased dramatically.

For a first breach:

  • Per lodger – was £80, now £5,000
  • Per occupier – was £1,000, now £10,000

For subsequent breaches:

  • Per lodger – was £500, now £10,000
  • Per occupier – was £3,000, now £20,000

Clearly, it’s not worth risking such a big a financial penalty by not carrying out the checks correctly or failing to make them on any or all of the occupants of your property.

The most robust way to ensure you don’t get fined is to pass the responsibility for making the checks on to an agent by having them let and manage the property for you. As the Government states in its code of practice: “Where an agent has accepted responsibility in writing for compliance with the Scheme, the agent will be the liable party in place of the landlord.”

Bear in mind that if you just use an agent to find tenants and choose to manage the property yourself, the agent is only responsible for making Right to Rent checks at the start of the tenancy. If anyone else moves into the property during the tenancy, it will then be your responsibility as the person managing the let to carry out checks on them.

To find out more about our own levels of service for landlords, simply get in touch with your nearest branch and one of the team will be happy to have a chat.


2. The code of practice has been updated – including ‘statutory excuse’ guidance

On 13th February this year, a new code of practice for Right to Rent checks came into force. This is the sixth update and the first in almost two years.

As well as incorporating the new maximum fines, the guidance on how the civil penalty is administered has been simplified. This includes clarification on how landlords can prove they fulfilled their right to rent obligations, if they are found to have rented to someone who is living here illegally. As long as the checks were done correctly, no penalty will be issued.

There are three steps to establish a ‘statutory excuse’:

  1. Before entering into the tenancy agreements, landlords (or agents) must have done one of the following and kept the required documentary records:
  • A manual right to rent check
  • An IDVT check via an IDSP (UK and Irish citizens only)
  • A Home Office online check
  1. If an occupier has a time-limited right to rent (e.g. a temporary visa), a follow-up check must have been made on an appropriate date.
  2. If checks indicate that someone no longer has the right to rent, a report must be made to the Home Office.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of Right to Rent checks, we’re always here to help. Just get in touch with your nearest branch and speak to one of our lettings experts.

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