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Why agents need to do their ‘right to rent’ homework

Stories of migrants attempting to make their way to the UK are now a daily feature in our news bulletins and ways to help limit the impact of this are being considered by the government across a wide range of aspects of our daily lives.

Property is not immune from this and a pilot scheme where landlords are required to carry out checks to ensure the eligibility of all tenants to reside in the UK has been under way in the West Midlands since earlier this year.

While some reports already suggest that this pilot scheme has been a failure, the reality is that this legislation will be rolled out nationwide, not just as a means by which immigration can be controlled but also to ensure accountability, control and improved standards throughout the sector.  

Therefore, as an industry we will need to embrace it. If we don’t, we risk allowing it to become an overly onerous part of the landlord/letting agent relationship or worse still, drive tenants to engage with unscrupulous landlords. 

With landlords facing fines of up to £3,000 (or even a prison sentence) for failure to comply with the details of ‘right to rent’, landlords and letting agents the length of the country have a significant role of responsibility to play.

Here at Andrews we’ve employed these checks for a while now and already carry them out for landlords who engage us to find them tenants.

New landlords, established landlords and of course tenants, all have their reasons for engaging with us and in return, to ensure a positive profile for the industry, we have a responsibility to support them as they navigate complex new areas of legislation.  

Many landlords will continue to carry out checks themselves and it’s our view here at Andrews that we should be ready to support them and answer their queries when they do so. Tenants are themselves likely to have questions that they’ll turn to us to answer. 

In an increasingly digital world, extra paperwork is something that few will relish, but for any reputable agent, you really can’t afford to be behind on this. If you haven’t already, I’d urge you to do your ‘right to rent’ homework!

*David Westgate is Managing Director at Andrews Letting & Management 

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