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Regulation

Rent Smart Wales

All landlords and agents must be licensed by 23 November 2016

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Right to Rent

From 1 February 2016, landlords in England
will be making Right to Rent checks

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Right to Rent

‘Right to Rent’ went live across England from 1 February 2016, agents and landlords will have to carry out quick and simple checks to ensure potential tenants have the right to rent property in the UK.

Right to Rent was first introduced in parts of the West Midlands in December 2014 and the extension to England is the next phase of a nationwide roll out. Landlords and agents, and anybody who sublets or takes in lodgers, could face a financial penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be letting property to someone who has no right to stay in the UK.

The Government has been working with an expert consultative panel, which includes letting agent organisations, local authorities and charities, to listen to feedback from the first phase of the scheme. The panel has advised on an updated landlords code of practice which includes changes to the acceptable document list to make it even simpler to conduct a check.

The Home Office has issued a helpful user’s guide to carrying out Right to Rent checks which can be found here. The guide contains an FAQs section to assist you with your queries.

There is also an online checking aid available on GOV.uk which agents can use to guide them through the process and also to request a check on anyone who has an outstanding case with the Home Office.

Right to Rent checks should be carried out on all adult tenants for new tenancy agreements in England from 1 February 2016

Summary

Here are some handy hints and tips on Right to Rent.
Further guidance can also be found on GOV.uk

Who does the Right to Rent scheme apply to?

The scheme applies to private landlords with property in England, including people who are subletting their property or taking in lodgers. Alternatively an agent can be appointed by a landlord to make Right to Rent checks on their behalf.

Checks must be carried out on all adult occupants – the rules apply to new tenancy agreements from 1 February 2016. Existing tenancy agreements are not affected.

What are the penalties for renting your property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK?

You could face a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant for renting your property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK.

How do you make a check?

The steps are:

  1. Establish who will live at the property
  2. Obtain a tenant’s original acceptable documents
  3. Check the documents with the tenant present
  4. Copy and keep the copied documents on file and record the date of the check

If the tenant is only allowed to be in the UK for a limited period of time, you will have to carry out follow-up checks at a later date.

Which documents can be used as evidence?

Documents include:

  • UK passport.
  • EEA passport or identity card.
  • Permanent residence card or travel document showing indefinite leave to remain.
  • Home Office immigration status document.
  • Certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.
  • Two readily available and easily accessible documents from a wide list.

Individuals without identity documents such as a passport can still prove their right to rent using other documents on the approved list which is contained in the User’s Guide here. The Home Office has worked closely with various bodies, including housing and homelessness charities, to design a document list which can accommodate a wide range of individual scenarios.

Landlords and agents are not expected to be immigration experts or to have a specialist knowledge of immigration documents or visas. Anyone who is shown a false document will only be liable for a civil penalty if it is reasonably apparent it is false.

What if a potential tenant has an outstanding case with the Home Office?

If a person cannot show any of the acceptable documents listed but states they have an outstanding immigration case with the Home Office, a landlord can request that the Home Office carry out a right to rent check by completing an online form. You will receive a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response within two working days.

Anyone who does not have internet access or requires assistance in completing the form may call the Landlords Helpline on 0300 069 9799.

Do I need to make a report to the Home Office if a tenant no longer has a right to be in the UK?

Agents should make a report to the Home Office if follow-up checks reveal that an occupier no longer has the right to rent in the UK. Landlords are encouraged to report suspected immigration abuse by calling 0800 555 111 or at: www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime

Are there any exemptions from the scheme?

Yes. Exemptions include some accommodation provided by local authorities; student accommodation where the student has been nominated by a higher education institution; hostels and refuges; company lets; and holiday accommodation.

I am an agent who can I ring if I have a query on Right to Rent?

The Landlords Helpline can also be used by agents ring T:03300 069 9799

Rent Smart Wales

A new law that will affect all landlords and letting agents in Wales came into force on 23 November 2015.

In order to improve letting and management standards, the Welsh Government has introduced ‘Rent Smart Wales’, a new registration and licensing scheme under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014. Full details for the scheme can be found here www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en

What will it mean for landlords and agents?

All private landlords who have a rental property in Wales must register under the scheme and all landlords and letting agents who carry out defined letting or property management activities must become licensed.

This new legislation will see Wales become the first country in the UK where managing landlords and agents are obliged to undertake training to ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Rent Smart Wales has recently issued and updated fee structure for agents which recognises that agents who are part of NALS qualify for a discount. Full details of the fees can be found here.

Where can I get approved training to meet the requirements of Rent Smart Wales?

NALS Foundation Lettings Course (Wales) is certified by Rent Smart Wales as an Approved Agent Training Course under the Housing Act (Wales) Act 2014. NALS online course allows you to fit your training around your lifestyle without having to attend a face to face course and take time out from your workplace. Full details of the course can be found here.

approved agent course

When will landlords and agents need to be compliant with the new leglislation?

Landlords and agents will have 12 months to comply with the licensing scheme requirements with the initial focus on raising awareness and encouraging compliance. They must be compliant by 23 November 2016.

Full details of the compliance requirements including mandatory training can be found here: www.rentsmart.gov.wales/en

Smoke and Carbon Manoxide Regulations

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015. These required private sector landlords to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. After that, the landlord/agent must make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

The regulations aim to reduce the risk of injury or death to tenants caused by fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

An explanatory booklet on the Regulations is available here www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords.

Deregulation Act

Retaliatory Eviction

On 1 October 2015 a number of provisions in the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force. These provisions are designed to protect tenants against unfair eviction. From 1 October 2015, where a tenant makes a genuine complaint about the condition of their property that has not been addressed by their landlord, their complaint has been verified by a local authority inspection, and the local authority has served either an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action, a landlord cannot evict that tenant for 6 months. The landlord is also required to ensure that the repairs are completed.

The Deregulation Act 2015 also makes it more straightforward for landlords to evict a tenant where they are allowed to do so. Landlords can face unnecessary costs when going to court to seek possession of their property, where the case is thrown out of court on a technical error in the notice (for example, specifying an incorrect date). A new form has been introduced that landlords must use when they are relying on a ‘no fault’ eviction (a section 21 eviction) which will help to reduce this, and to save time and inconvenience for landlords, helping them to get their property back as soon as possible. This form must be used for tenancies entered into on or after 1 October 2015. The form and additional notes can be found here.

Effective Enforcement Toolkit

NALS creates toolkit to raise standards in the private rented sector

The National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) has created a toolkit to help local authorities tackle rogue letting agents who fail to comply with the law.

NALS worked in collaboration with a number of local councils and experts in the private rented sector (PRS), to create the Effective Enforcement Toolkit. The first of its kind in the industry, the kit walks local authority enforcement officers step-by-step through the legalities and requirements for regulating letting agents.

Download Toolkit Now

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