New guidance has been issued following a High Court ruling that measures aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from renting properties were “discriminatory” and breached human rights laws.
The “right to rent” scheme requiring landlords to check the immigration status of tenants was introduced in England in 2016, but judges said it would be illegal to roll it out in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland without further evaluation. The Home Office had said it was “disappointed” by the ruling.
At the time of the ruling Mr Justice Spencer said the scheme had “little or no effect” on its main aim of controlling immigration and even if it had, this was “significantly outweighed by the discriminatory effect”. He added that the evidence “strongly showed” the scheme was causing landlords to discriminate against potential tenants and appeared to be having a “real effect” on people’s ability to find accommodation.
Therefore, the Home Office has now released a new factsheet to help landlords in England to comply with the law and complete Right to Rent checks.
This affects prospective tenants who are not UK nationals, visiting the UK from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA and who have crossed border control through ePassport gates.
Nationals from these seven countries visiting for up to six months can rent a property during their stay. But, says the National Landlords Association (NLA), if they have used ePassport gates, their passports will not have an endorsement although they have the right to remain during this period.
In such circumstances, landlords can evidence the Right to Rent during the visitor’s six month stay through these means:
- a boarding pass, or an electronic boarding pass for air, rail or sea travel to the UK;
- an airline, rail or boat ticket, or e-ticket;
- any type of booking confirmation for air, rail or sea travel to the UK; or
- any other documentary evidence that establishes the date of arrival in the UK.
Landlords should keep a copy of the evidence above as well as a copy of the tenant’s passport, including the date the landlord checked these documents, as evidence they have acted in the proper manner. Visitors would only have the Right to Rent for a maximum of six months from the date of arrival in the UK.
If a tenant is looking to rent for more than six months, they will need to show the landlord a visa in their passport and a biometric residence permit.
The Home Office guidance also states that if a letting is for less than three months and it is not extended it should be classified as a holiday let and this would remove the requirement for Right to Rent checks.
There is no update as yet to the Landlord’s Code of Practice The Government must seek Parliamentary approval to amend the Code of Practice, which will follow in due course.
With the new guidance in place it means that still, legally, landlords do not have a statutory excuse if they follow the new Home Office guidance. But, the Home Office has stated it will not seek to impose a civil penalty or take prosecution action where landlords have complied with the new guidance published yesterday (8/10/2019)
The Landlord’s Code of Practice will be amended taking into account the High Court ruling as so as is practicable.