What do new 'right to rent' penalties mean?

The latest Ask the Expert column from our Director Neil Shaw FRICS focuses on the complex issue of 'right to rent'.

Please read more below about the latest developments in this hotly debated legislation.

Q: I keep hearing about new ‘right to rent’ penalties which have come into force. What does this mean for landlords and tenants?

A: From February 2016, landlords or the letting agents representing them had to make sure that prospective tenants had the ‘right to rent’ property.

Essentially, this was designed to close the door on illegal immigrants and people whose right to remain in the country had expired.

Under the legislation, those breaching the legislation could be fined up to £3,000. Changes which came into force at the start of December added a new set of offences for landlords and lettings agents.

In the magistrates courts the maximum penalty is an unlimited fine, a prison sentence of up to 12 months, or a combination of both.
In the crown court, for more serious offences, there an unlimited fine but the maximum prison sentence is five years.u

Furthermore, the Home Secretary can also force landlords or lettings agents to evict tenants within a reasonable period if they have no right to rent.

Although right to rent means more paperwork and checks, well-organised landlords and lettings agents will be able to build this into their process and checks.

Letting agents and landlords have to be more flexible than ever as the landscape continues to change in the private rented sector, and will welcome any measures to clampdown on rogue offenders and professionalise the sector.

For more information about ‘right to rent’ contact a member of the Portsmouth Property Association and visit the Residential Landlords' Association website.