Talitha Burgess, Managing Director of Clarity Property Management takes you through everything you need to know about the new laws affecting landlords and rental property agents. This is the new Right to Rent Scheme. Something to make everyone’s lives easier…

The laws governing the rental sector never stay still, I find.

What’s It Like to Be a Landlord in 2020?

Most landlords have a view on this: given that there have been so many changes in recent decades, it’s quite easy to conclude that being a landlord is much harder than it used to be.

Why?  Because the ever-evolving rules and regulations mean there’s a lot to know, and even more to do.  Keeping your tenants safe and protecting their rights has resulted the burden of responsibility tipping towards you.  And, quite a lot in favour of the person renting from you.

What’s the thinking behind this?

The nature of home ownership has changed, and with the number of tenants outnumbering homes available to rent, a more professional stance is more important than ever. Now, it seems that you have to keep up with several new developments during the course of a year.

Or rather, you can ask Clarity to advise and guide you down the right track.  We’re here to help, so do get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss your needs.

Our job is to make your life as a landlord easier.  To coin a phrase, we have the experience and knowledge to ensure that you keep up to speed with property legislation – so that you don’t have to.

Something to Know Now – the Right to Rent Scheme

And, here we are in 2020.  On top of a somewhat exacting year for the property sector, the Right to Rent Scheme has been updated.  It’s not new, just changed. No, it’s OK.  It’s good news for landlords, agencies and would-be tenants.  This legislative change makes things easier.

From November 2020, there are important developments to the Right to Rent Scheme, aimed at making the essential right to rent checks safer and more straightforward.

Let’s rewind a little bit first.

Then – and Now

Introduced as part of the Immigration Act, 2016, the Scheme requires landlords and agencies to ensure that tenants have a legal status to rent a property in England – this legislation doesn’t apply to the devolved administrations.

For non-EEA citizens (European Economic Area), the rules were, and are clear: they must undertake passport and immigration checks before being granted a tenancy.  No positive checks (including a passport, permanent residence card or a document showing indefinite leave to remain), no keys to the new flat.

It may be obvious, but the laws requiring someone to prove their legal status to live here offer a sort of spiky security fence against the myriad problems surrounding illegal immigration.

But now, there’s an important update:

In brief, agents and landlords can now use a new Home office online checking service, now available on the gov.uk website.  This is an immediate “here and now” process, allowing checks to be made via a video call.  Safer, quicker and easier? In these difficult times of Coronavirus, yes, yes and yes.

Key Points:

  • Your would-be tenant’s right to rent information is provided and confirmed in real time directly from a Home Office data system. As a landlord, you don’t even have to review the documents, as the HO can prove they exist.
  • The actual documents required have been updated for British-born people without passports, too: now, agents and landlords can accept a short UK birth and adoption certificate, as well as documents issued to non-EEA family members under the EU Settlement Scheme.
  • In fact, Brits take note: to ensure non-discriminatory best practice, landlords have to carry out these checks on everyone, not just those you believe not to be British citizens. Likewise, you’re not allowed to discriminate against anyone who’s unable to use the service. Or, who decides not to.
  • Be aware that all the normal Right to Rent checks for EEA citizens remain in place until 30th June 2021

How Does it Work?

The online service is applicant-led.

An individual wishing to rent your property in the UK first views his or her own HO profile.  Then, they invite you to view their record through means of a “share code”.

You’ll know that the person is who they say they are, as there’s a high-quality facial image on the profile page.

You can print or download the image as a PDF or HTML file for your records.

After it’s done – it’s done.  You won’t need to carry out further face-to-face checks.

What are the Benefits of the New Scheme?

It’s quicker, simpler and provides clear, instantaneous information about someone’s right to rent.  Also, it’s real-time and completely up to date; there’s less paperwork (always a good thing), super-secure –  and did we mention that it’s free?

So, another piece of updated legislation for you to know about.  We’re here to guide you through the landlord maze, so get in touch if you’d like to discuss your property portfolio with us.  We offer clarity.  Hence, our name.

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