Industry trade body Propertymark says no Right To Rent checks will be required to be conducted by letting agents on Ukranian refugees - although there is still no official confirmation from the government.
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, says requests for information have been increasing in number in recent weeks as some 100,000 people - many of them landlords - registered with the official Homes for Ukraine scheme.
One of the main questions asked by agents is whether Right to Rent checks will need to be carried out. Until further information is provided by the UK government, Propertymark says it understands that no Right to Rent checks need to be done as ‘no rent is being charged’.
Douglas says: “This advice has not yet been fully confirmed by the UK government as the Home Office would normally expect Right to Rent checks to be undertaken against any adult individual who was occupying a property in England, irrespective as to their liability for rent.”
Individual sponsors who want to provide homes, or a spare room rent free for as long as they are able with a minimum stay of six months in return, will receive an ex-gratia payment of £350 per month for up to 12 months which will be made in arrears.
Where tenants want to offer up a room then they will need the consent of the landlord and the UK government will carry out checks that the landlord’s permission has been given.
For those who own properties through a limited company there could be adverse tax implications in offering a home to a refugee under the scheme as currently published, and Propertymark cautioned that independent advice should be sought before proceeding.
If rent is charged, even a top up to the £350, agents must be aware that this would grant tenancy rights and likely create a tenancy resulting in compliance with all the associated legal requirements.
Douglas goes on: “Legal interpretation means that rent does not have to be ‘money’ in the accepted meaning of the term. It can be ‘monies worth’. In theory, this could include the provision of services by a guest such as gardening or decorating which might then be treated as a rental payment.”
The accommodation must be fit for people to live in, and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated. Sponsors are not expected to cover the costs of food and living expenses.
The UK government has recently clarified that under licensing schemes where housing is being used as accommodation for those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, local authorities are being asked to take a pragmatic approach to requiring these properties to be licensed.
For HMOs, because no rent is payable for accommodation under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the government does not expect councils to require such accommodation to obtain an HMO licence.
Where a host does not want to continue the arrangement beyond six months, they should let the guest know in plenty of time (ideally two months) so other arrangements can be made.
Douglas concludes: “We continue to monitor developments in Ukraine and are working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to feed in ongoing issues and feedback from Propertymark members. A free download of the FAQs can be found here: www.propertymark.co.uk/resource/faqs-homes-for-ukraine.html."