What do Right to Rent rules mean in the UK?

In accordance with the Immigration Act of 2014, the Right to Rent rules were
enforced across the UK on the first of February, 2016. These rules make it mandatory
for landlords to ensure that their tenants are legally entitled to reside in the UK,
before signing tenancy agreements, and failure to do so would result in a fine of up to
£3,000 for the landlord for each of their tenants residing illegally in the UK. The
Illegal Immigrants Act of 2016, which came into effect on the first of December,
2016, has further built on the provisions provided by the Immigration Act of 2014.
The Act has listed a set of guidelines for employers and landlords, along with hefty
penalties for non-compliance.

Landlords found to be exploiting tenants, flouting Right to Rent rules, and refusing
to evict illegal immigrants from their property could face fines, up to 5 years of prison
time, or a combination of both, along with further sanctions under the Proceeds of
Crime Act. As opposed to the civil fines previously levied, the rules now serve
criminal convictions to rogue landlords who do not adhere to the new regulations.
This looming threat of legal action makes renting or leasing their property a sticky
wicket for landlords, especially ones securing overseas tenants. If a student submits an
application for renting/leasing a property in the UK before they arrive here, the
landlord would not be able to verify their documents in their presence, thereby losing
a prospective tenant.

The Act, while making landlords responsible for illegal tenancy, also offers deference
to those who can demonstrate with enough proof that they have taken steps to ensure
eviction of an illegal migrant within an amount of time that is deemed reasonable.
Also, in the circumstances stated in the last paragraph where the landlord receives an
application from an overseas tenant, the law allows the issuing of a tenancy agreement
prior to checks, as long as they are able to verify the veracity of documents before the
tenant moves into the property. Taking a copy of the tenant's documentation in an
unalterable format along with the date of checking is now a mandatory thing to do for
landlords, and so is keeping the copies for a year post-tenancy, after which they must
be destroyed. Steps must also be taken to ensure that the tenant's document copies are
stored safely. A password-protected computer or a filing cabinet with a lock should
suffice. In the case of sub-letting by tenants, they are responsible for carrying out the
Right to Rent checks unless the landlord, in writing, agrees to take on the role.

Right to Rent checks may seem like a lot of trouble to go through for landlords, but it
ensures that rogue landlords who rent/lease overcrowded and poor quality housing
without proper checks are forced out of the market, and also that illegal immigrants
are evicted prudently. With all this responsibility for landlords in handling their illegal
migrants also arises the need for very precise handling of the eviction process, and it is
highly advisable to consult qualified professionals.

For more information about Right to Rent check, please visit https://www.gov.uk/check-tenant-right-to-rent-documents/who-to-check