The Home Office’s recently updated Right to Rent guidance could cause landlords to unwittingly break the law, the Residential Landlord Association has warned.
The government published updated guidance in July on how landlords must comply with the Right to Rent scheme, which requires landlords in England to check the immigration status of prospective tenants.
The updated guidance provides specific advice for nationals of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the United States (collectively known as B5JSSK nationals) who are planning on staying in the UK for up to six months.
The Home Office extended visa-free entry to the UK via e-passport gates to nationals of these countries in May which meant they did not need to obtain a stamp in their passport or have any other documentation proving their right to remain in the UK.
The Right to Rent code of practice says that landlords “must be shown clear evidence from the Home Office that the holder has the right, either permanent, or for a time limited period, to reside in the UK”.
The updated guidance acknowledged that when individuals enter the UK, “their passport will not be endorsed by Border Force”, and that they will therefore “not have a current document enabling them to satisfy a right to rent check conducted by a landlord or lettings agent in the manner set out in the code of practice”.
The RLA warned that unless the code of practice is revised to match the guidance, landlords could be left open to prosecution should a tenant remain in the country for more than six months.
David Smith, the RLA’s policy director and a member of the consultative panel, said the guidance was “a new low in the sorry saga of the Right to Rent”.
“Having already been ruled to be discriminatory by the High Court, the government is now putting out guidance which could leave landlords open to prosecution.”
“It reinforces once against that the Right to Rent policy needs to go and go now.”
The scheme was introduced in 2016 under then-home secretary Theresa May’s hostile environment policy. The scheme has proved controversial from the beginning and was earlier this year ruled to break human rights laws as it was causing landlords to racially discriminate against people because they were fearful of facing tough penalties, including up to five years in prison.