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With just under a month to go until tenant immigration checks are imposed, landlords have been bracing themselves for the buy to let changes set to come into force for 2016. Luckily, the government has decided to help investors prepare and manoeuvre their way through the new checks in place, by introducing its online Right to Rent tool: the easy way of checking whether tenants have the right to rent residential property in the UK.
Designed to guide landlords through the checking process, this procedure will be mandatory from February 1st on all new agreements. Landlords are able to start checks from now on, however, which can be done 28 days before the start of a tenancy agreement.
Assuring that the design of the scheme was completed with an expert panel (including trade bodies, local authorities and charities), the government assured it is as simple and ‘light touch’ as possible, so all landlords can prepare for the new Right to Rent tool rules with ease.
The scheme is part of the government’s wider reforms to the immigration system, with the intent of making a stronger, fairer and more effective structure. The government also reassured that any tenants who have the right to be here will not be adversely affected.
This comes with the introduction of an updated landlord code of practise, including changes to the acceptable document list that tenants can provide. Ensuring no corners are cut – particularly due to the inflated demand for buy to let property – immigration minister James Brokenshire described the process as “straightforward” and “does not require any specialist knowledge.”
The tool may come as news to many, yet the government was clear to outline how many responsible landlords have already been applying similar checks. Following the pilot scheme previously carried out in the West Midlands, the government announced those who fail to comply with right to rent checks may face penalties of up to £3000.
With buy to let investors already facing tax relief cuts for the New Year, the scheme hopes to offer ease, reassurance and relief of a different kind, for landlords having to change their usual process when accepting new tenants.