Right to Rent Checks will Target Rogue Landlords

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As part of an initiative to deter illegal immigrants from settling in the UK, the government is planning to mandate that landlords and letting agents run immigration checks on tenants to ensure that they are legally eligible to reside in the country and have a so called right to rent. Beside making it almost impossible for illegal immigrants to find a permanent home, the new legislation also aims at getting tenancies canceled automatically as an occupant’s visa expires. The changes are set to roll out across England and Wales, with some cities in the West Midlands having undergone a pilot trial already. 

Landlord immigration checks will increase costs for landlords – and tenants

Needless to say, these landlord immigration checks to assess a tenant’s right to rent will increase costs for landlords and tenants, as well as require more assistance from letting agents. Indeed,  most landlords are likely to use agents to carry out the “right to rent” checks.

However, in some cases, tenants will be the ones who have to pay for the extra costs. Letting agents are expected to raise fees to cover the cost of the checks, with the government estimating that tenants will have to foot an additional bill of up to £18m in fees over 10 years. According to the Financial Times, a breakdown of the costs for landlords includes the cost of an agent to carry out the checks (£100 per person); if necessary, the cost of serving an eviction notice (£1,500); the court costs of tenant eviction (£400); and, last but not least, the potential loss in rent during the process (the average rent of c. £1,500 per month in London and c. £750 outside) as some tenants might be unwilling to continue to pay their rent.

Targeting rogue landlords

Thus far, the response from the housing industry has been mixed. Although it will be easier to evict illegal immigrants, it will remain difficult to evict tenants who are problematic. The landlord immigration checks will, clearly, target rogue landlords who fill houses with illegal immigrants. However, critics are quick to point out that these landlords fall into the minority. And although housing may be a channel to deal with illegal immigrants, it is not enough of a measure to completely deal with the problem. Only time will tell what is in store for landlords as the legislation gets rolled out.

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