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Right To Rent: agency chief says it'll be more complex under Brexit

The head of an online letting agency specialising in student accommodation says the controversial Right To Rent legislation may have to change under Brexit.

Danielle Cullen, managing director of StudentTenant, says the recent Queen’s Speech made it clear that immigration changes as part of leaving the EU may alter the requirements of letting agents and landlords in terms of checking the right of tenants to be in the UK.

“We will obviously see amendments to the Immigration Bill, which is inevitably going to affect the Right to Rent Scheme. We still have no idea whether freedom of movement for other EU nationals to the UK will remain. Many landlords still aren’t even aware they have to do the checks as it is [so] further changes and responsibilities placed on them will be unfair” claims Cullen.

“As part of the Brexit campaign, proposals were made for a control visa system, and whether a EU national has a right to rent in the UK anymore will become a much more complex question. If negotiations don’t work out in favour of EU nationals living in the UK, there could be a rise in unlawful migrants which could mean landlords inadvertently renting to someone who no-longer qualifies for immigration status” she adds.

Right to Rent checks, obliging landlords and letting agents to check whether tenants can legally rent a property in England, were introduced in 2016. 

The scheme requires landlords who let properties to carry out checks on the immigration status of potential tenants, as part of the government’s plan to drive out illegal migrants. Introduced by Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014, the checks were rolled out in England just over a year ago. 

If a landlord fails to check a tenant's right to rent in England, and they are found to be living in the UK without permission, they could face a fine of up to £3,000.

“We’re already seeing evidence that Brexit is looking to be damaging for universities and ultimately the student housing sector. There has been a significant dip in applications from EU students this year, coupled with a general decrease in numbers, which is starting to affect the number of vacant student properties in the UK. The Government must protect the rights of International students, not only for higher education establishments, but also for the student housing sector” Cullen insists. 

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