Landlords are finding it difficult to get a handle on the right to rent rules, with some saying that they are now less likely to accept tenants without a British passport, so they do not fall foul of the regulations. According to a Residential Landlords Association survey, 43 per cent said they were less likely to rent to people who did not hold a UK passport and 63 per cent of the 810 landlords who were asked were afraid of making mistakes when checking documentation.
The problem is that it is a criminal offence for breaching these new right to rent rules, with landlords facing unlimited fines and up to five years in prison if they do not conduct the checks properly or fail to move illegal migrants. Obviously, this is a major concern for landlords who do not want to be branded criminals, so the simpler solution is to only rent to people holding a British passport.
A separate study by online letting agency PropertyLetByUs shows that right to rent is a leading cause of stress for more than one-third of buy-to-let landlords. Only rent arrears and dealing with property repairs were considered to be more stressful. This is particularly the case for landlords in areas of high levels of immigration such as London, the South East, West Midlands, East of England and the North West.
Altogether, 31 people have been deported because of the right to rent scheme and 75 landlords have been fined. The Home Office also confirmed that 654 people were involved in investigations or named in documents regarding right to rent penalties. As well as the 31 who were evicted from the UK, others are either in the process of being deported or trying to regularise their stay, while some have voluntarily left the United Kingdom.
Under the right to rent rulings, landlords and property agents need to check the immigration status of prospective tenants. In Parliamentary Questions, Baroness Williams said that most illegal migrants would have been denied access to the private rental sector when the checks are carried out, so there wouldn’t be any need for enforcement officers to intervene or for the Home Office to have a record of the numbers involved. As well as causing problems for landlords, tenants are also struggling as they find it difficult to find accommodation. Some charities in the West Midlands, for example, have said some people are even homeless as a result of the right to rent legislation.