The Home Office has issued a statement overnight saying letting agents and landlords can begin the controversial Right To Rent checks now - even though the measure becomes compulsory on February 1.
This is because under the regulations for Right To Rent in England, the checks can be conducted up to 28 days before the start of a tenancy - so anyone being checked now would qualify.
“Ahead of the scheme’s roll out, we have been working closely with an expert panel to make sure their feedback is taken on board and to design a scheme that is as simple and light touch as possible. Many responsible landlords have already been undertaking similar checks - these are straightforward and do not require any specialist knowledge” claims immigration minister James Brokenshire.
Right to Rent - which has been sharply criticised from many parts of the lettings sector, for making agents and landlords act as de facto immigration officers - was piloted in parts of the West Midlands in December 2014 and the extension to England is the next phase of what the government intends to be a UK-wide roll out.
Landlords, their agents, and anybody who sublets or takes in lodgers, could face a financial penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant if they are found to be letting property to someone who has no right to stay in the UK.
The government’s so-called “expert panel” includes trade bodies, local authorities and charities, which have been consulted on a revised code of practice that can be seen here.
There is an online checking service - details here - which agents and landlords can use to guide them through the process, and also to request a check on anyone who has an outstanding case with the Home Office.
Right to Rent checks should be carried out on all adult tenants for new tenancy agreements in England from February 1.