With the private rental market doubling in size in the last 14 years, Stephen Purvis, chief executive officer at OnBoard Pro, providers of innovative, cloud-based pre-tenancy software for letting agents, shares his thoughts on the forthcoming roll out of the Right to Rent immigration checks.
Following a successful trial in the West Midlands, the government’s ‘right to rent’ code of practice on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation is now set to roll out across England later this year. It means that, under section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, a landlord who fails to check whether a prospective tenant is ‘authorised to occupy property’ by being in this country legally may be fined up to £3,000.
While there has been some grumbling within the industry about adding to landlords’ responsibilities by making them do the job of border control staff, I believe the introduction of ‘right to rent’ to be a sensible move which will go some way towards making the lettings industry more professional and robust.
Essentially the new rules merely require landlords to ask for evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship – in 95% of cases sight of an EU passport will cover it. Yes in some areas with particularly high levels of immigration the checks may be more complex, but essentially I see this as an extension of the right to work legislation which employers are used to fulfilling.
Remember that top end letting agents have been doing these checks for some time – after all no one would want to hand over the keys of a £0.5m property to a person without the right to be in the country. The West Midlands trial also went well.
Currently the lettings industry is the only sector that deals with financial and property transactions, yet has no legal regulators, so, it seems to me, reasonable and sensible that we sort ourselves out and comply.
We may well see a few cases of early profiteering as the scheme is introduced nationwide, but let’s be clear, there is no expectation that landlords become trained experts in forged documents or take two year border control courses.They just need to ensure they have the right documentation which is why we are offering an online solution which both meets and exceeds all of the government’s requirements and is free to all our customers.
Stephen Purvis is the Founder and CEO of OnBoard Pro. A former military pilot and Barrister he holds degrees in both Law (LLB) and Computer Science (BEng), is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Stephen is a serial technology entrepreneur with 2 successful exits behind him. In addition to his role at OnBoard Pro, he is an active angel investor, CEO of the SGP Technology Group, NXD to a number of high growth technology businesses and a business mentor at the Entrepreneur’s Forum.