Right to Rent Scheme – over 400 fines since 2016
Figures from the Home Office show that as of the end of March, a total of 405 fines for non-compliance with the Right to Rent scheme have been issued.
The total value of these fines is £265,000.
The Right to Rent scheme was introduced in February 2016 and requires landlords or their letting agents to check the immigration status of prospective tenants to make sure they have the legal right to rent in the UK.
Authorities are permitted to issue fines of up to £3,000 per tenant. However, according to these figures, the average fine across all cases is just under £654.
Press Association analysis of the Home Office data shows that since the scheme’s inception, the period with the most fines issued was April to June 2017 (76), followed by July to September last year (75).
The lowest number of fines recorded (14) was between January and March 2016 when the scheme was introduced.
“It is important to remember that landlords are neither immigration experts nor border agents,” Chris Norris, the National Landlord Association’s director of policy and practice, told the Press Association.
“The Right to Rent scheme has placed an additional cost on an already pressurised sector, while the excessive checks and lack of monitoring may have had harmful consequences for would-be and vulnerable tenants.”
He said, however, that the figures show that landlords are increasingly aware of their responsibilities and carrying out the required checks in line with the law.
The Right to Rent scheme has been in the headlines on several occasions in recent weeks. The NLA has called for new Home Secretary Sajid Javid to carry out a review of the system in light of government figures which show it costs an additional £4.7 million.
It was also criticised for its role in the ‘Windrush scandal’ when people who have lived and worked in Britain legally for decades were being challenged over their immigration status.
The Home Office subsequently issued updated guidance making clear that tenants who have lived in the UK since before 1973 have the right to rent property. However, this guidance has been criticised by the Residential Landlords Association for ‘lacking clarity’.