No Right to Rent
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you will recall back in June last year, I blogged about the new Right to Rent provisions. They include some very severe penalties (including criminal offences), for those landlords who fail to carry out Right to Rent checks. Back then, it was still unclear how quickly the authorities will act and what will be considered as “taking reasonable steps” to terminate a tenancy.
The Act came into force on 1st December 2016 making it a criminal offence to let to a tenant who has no Right to Rent. As a landlord, you now have to check everyone over 18, even if they are not named on the tenancy and regardless of whether you think they are a UK citizen.
You must check:
- whether they will be using your property as their main home
- original copies of their documents confirming their Right to Rent.
Make sure the copies are genuine, take and keep copies and make a note of the date of the check. It must be at least 28 days before the tenancy starts.
You must also do follow-up checks, either just before:
- the end of your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK, or
- 12 months after your previous check,
whichever is later. You don’t have to do a follow-up check if there’s no time limit on your tenant’s permission to stay in the UK. If you are in any doubt about any of the provisions, get in touch.
A slither of good news
On the bright side, a close inspection of the details of the Act reveals a slither of good news.
The Act provides that if there is no Right to Rent, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by serving a Notice to Quit in writing. That Notice to Quit can then be enforced as if it is an order of the High Court.
Without getting too technical, that makes enforcement easier and quicker with no prior court approval required. Of course, the Notice to Quit must contain the correct information so do take advice before serving. And while this may seem like a small win for us landlords, it still represents a little good news.
Banning orders update
You may also recall that The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduces a new power to serve a banning order on certain landlords or property agents. The Act came into force in May 2016 but not the provisions in respect of banning orders which remained unclear.
To date, we know that the Act introduces measures enabling local authorities to tackle rogue landlords, including the provision of a national database of those convicted of certain offences.
We also know there will be fairly substantial penalties including fines of up to £30,000 and Rent Repayment Orders to cover illegal eviction, breach of a banning order or failure to comply with certain statutory notices.
Beyond that, there’s been very little clarity on what will constitute a rogue landlord and how the provisions will be rolled out. There is, however, currently a Government consultation which will close on the 10th February 2017. It is anticipated that some initial civil penalty provisions will come into force in April 2017 and further provisions about the database will be in force in October 2017. With luck, that means some long-awaited clarification, so watch this space.
Keep up to date
It might be tempting to think that some of the new legislative provisions won’t affect you. After all, I don’t imagine you’re planning on becoming a rogue landlord. But however you came into your role as landlord (whether accidently or not), it’s really important to keep up to date with developments. Ignorance is normally no defence and little mistakes could cost you dear. I’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
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