Many landlords and many letting agents are still confused by the requirements of the new Right-to-Rent legislation that came in from February 1st 2016 says the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).  A recent case they cite, they say, is not unique, but it is handy to explain the potential pitfalls for landlords.

The landlord in question was worried that his agents did not seem to have a  good understanding of the Right-to-Rent legislation.  The agents had signed up a new tenant and said they had carried out a Right-to-Rent check, but the landlord was concerned that the evidence they had based their checks on was not sufficient.

When the landlord later asked his agents for the documentation proving the Right to Rent checks had been done, the agent told him this was based on the tenant’s National Insurance number, and that they had informed him of this at the time of the letting.

The upshot was that the agent had not met the requirements and consequently left the landlord “holding the can!, exposing him to the prospect of a £3,000 fine.

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Right to Rent checks involve the responsible person meeting the prospective tenant in person, checking at least two specified documents from an approved list, face to face, and taking a copy of these documents, which must be kept for the length of the tenancy, and 12 months after the tenant leaves.

A National Insurance number is no on the list of acceptable documents, and the agents should have known this.  Furthermore, the agents carried out none of the above and the landlord had no agreement in writing with the agent which delegated powers to do the checks on his behalf. This left the landlord directly responsible.

The landlord was advised by the RLA to fix a meeting with his tenants to see their passports and take copies of them. Providing the tenants could prove right to rent there would be no repercussions, but the incompetence of the agents had put the landlord in a very difficult position and relying on the goodwill of his tenants.

Landlords should remember that their agents work for them, and anything they do can be construed legally as being carried out by the landlord himself. Agents should always pass on details about the tenant/s to landlords if requested.

Check Your Tenant’s Right to Rent

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