It has been revealed that the government’s Right to Rent pilot scheme issued just nine civil penalties to landlords between 1st December 2014 and 19th November 2015.
These figures, obtained from Home Office law firm Simpson Millar revealed that during the pilot scheme, six fines were issued to landlords of properties in Birmingham, two in Sandwell and one in Dudley.
As of 1st February 2016, this scheme was rolled out nationwide, despite its minimal impact. Anyone entering in a new tenancy agreement in England will be forced to prove that they have the right to live in the UK. Private landlords will be required to check, make and keep copies of new tenants’ identity documents.
“Given that the pilot covered an area with more than 2 million people it is hard to see how the scheme has had any significant financial impact at all. Rather, it has the potential to create a culture of fear and discrimination,” commented Sumita Gupta, Head of Immigration Manchester at Simpson Millar.
Landlords who fail to comply face fines of up to £3,000, however in the first 12 months since the pilot was introduced, the total value of fines came to under £10,000.
Gupta believes this scheme could further hamper the chances of those who are vulnerable finding accommodation: “There will be rogue landlords who won’t care about undertaking the required document checks; they could view this new scheme as an opportunity to exploit a very vulnerable group of people who might otherwise find it difficult to secure accommodation.”
To avoid a fine, or discriminating against tenants, landlords, agencies and sub-letters must make themselves familiar with the Home Office Code of Practice relating to the Right to Rent.