A leading Midlands property lawyer has warned landlords to check they are complying with new immigration laws after a survey suggested the vast majority could be at risk of a £3,000 fine.
The Right to Rent rules came into effect at the beginning of February, but nine out of 10 received no information about them.
Now Maynard Burton, a partner at law firm mfg Solicitors, says he is becoming increasingly concerned that landlords across the Midlands will find themselves caught out and on the receiving end of a “ruinous” fine they had no idea was coming.
Right to Rent is part of the 2014 Immigration Act and created a new legal requirement for all landlords to check that any tenants had the right to be in the UK.
Mr Burton’s fears were confirmed by a survey commissioned by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which found that 72% of landlords did not understand their obligations under the policy, while 90% had received no information about the new law before it was rolled out across the country, following a 12-month pilot in Birmingham and the Black Country.
Mr Burton said: “Landlords who do not act face fines of up to £3,000. That’s potentially ruinous for someone who is self-employed and I’m concerned, as are other specialists, at just how few landlords have grasped not only their obligations, but the implications for them.
“They really need to get advice immediately on the checks they should be making and the records they should be keeping.”
Right to Rent was intended to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to be able to stay in Britain as it can potentially deny them housing. But critics have said it forces landlords to do the sort of jobs normally carried out by trained immigration officers.
Landlords are expected to carry out checks on anyone aged 18 or over living in their property, including any lodgers or people to whom their tenants may sub-let.
Mr Burton added: “It’s easy to sympathise with landlords who feel that these new rules are effectively turning them into unpaid immigration officials. Equally, it’s easy to feel frustrated at the lack of information that has been given out by the authorities. But the law is here and it’s in force. Landlords here in the Midlands have to act now.”
For advice on the impact of the new Right to Rent rules, contact Maynard Burton on 0845 55 55 321, email through firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.mfgsolicitors.com.