‘Right To Rent’ Pilot Starts

'Right to rent' checks rolled out in West Midlands

‘Right-to-rent’ checks rolled out in West Midlands

Back in September the Government announced that, from December 1st, the West Midlands would be used as a testing ground for the new ‘right to rent’ checks.

From yesterday a landlord (or their lettings agent) who lets out property in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton will need to conduct ‘right to rent’ checks. This new initiative is part of the new Immigration Act 2014 and failure to comply – and thus let to a tenant who has no right to be in the UK – will result in a £3,000 fine per breach.

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Housing Minister Rejects Mandatory Client Money Protection

SAFEagent

SAFEagent

Following a request by SAFE Agent, urging the Government to amend the Consumer Rights Bill to include mandatory membership to a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme for all lettings and management agents, the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, has responded by stating that he has “…no plans to make CMP compulsory.”

A statement released on the SAFE Agent website, by John Midgley the Chair of SAFEagent, stated: “We are disappointed and will continue with our campaign…”

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Time is Running Out for Letting Agents to Join a Redress Scheme

Time Running Out for Letting Agents to Join a Redress Scheme

Time Running Out for Letting Agents to Join a Redress Scheme

Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis, has confirmed that October 1 is the deadline by which all letting agents in England must have joined an approved redress scheme (the Property Redress Scheme, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Ombudsman).

It seems there will be no grace period, so agents operating in England (the obligations do not yet apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) that are not already a member of one of the three schemes should quickly rectify that.

In 18 days any agents that has not signed up to a scheme will be breaking the law and can be fined up to £5,000.

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Immigration Act Pilot Area Announced

Compliance Corner

Compliance Corner

The government has announced the pilot area and start date for the first stage of the Immigration Act.

The area, in which agents and landlords will have to check an immigrants ‘right to rent’, will be the West Midlands, with a start date of December 1. This area will include Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, but will not apply in Solihull and Coventry.

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European Standards for Safety of Internal Window Blinds

British Standards Institution

British Standards Institution

In February 2014 the British Standards Institution (BSI) published a forty page document outlining the new Standards of safety requirements to address certain risks posed to children by internal blinds and corded window coverings.

The Standards apply to blinds which have cords or chains fitted with a hazardous loop that could create a danger in premises where there are children aged between 0 and 4 years who are likely to have access or be present.

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Immigration Bill Factsheet

Government

Government

Since the Immigration Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May, and became the Immigration Act 2014, letting agents and landlords have been awaiting further details.

In simplified terms the Act will require landlords, or their agents, to carry out checks on the immigration status of any prospective tenant.

More detailed information pertaining to the ins and outs of the act have been thin on the ground – there isn’t even a confirmed date for when the Act will come into force – and this has left landlords and agents confused.

At the start of August, The Home Office released their ‘Factsheet: Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation‘. The “factsheet”, far from being the comprehensive list of answers that was expected, is in fact a vague collection of information that has created more questions than it has answered.

We continue to wait for the government to release further information and hope that any new releases will answer the many questions that have been left unanswered.

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Immigration Act takes effect from October

Compliance Corner

Compliance Corner

The Immigration Bill, which has now received Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament, will take effect from October this year and puts the onus on landlords, or their agents, to check the immigration status of any prospective tenant.

The aim of the Act is to prevent people with no right to be in the UK from renting property in the Private Rented Sector.

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Penalties announced for landlords who let to illegal immigrants

Landlords & Agents face fines

Landlords & Agents face fines

As we have mentioned before on PRSupdate Private landlords will be breaking the law if they let to illegal immigrants.

Penalties will be:

  • £1,000 per tenant for a first offence.
  • £3,000 for a repeat offence.
  • Landlords with HMOs could lose their licences.

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Ministers are unlikely to ban on fees

Government

Government

Ministers are unlikely to act on Shelter’s call for letting agent fees aimed at tenants to be banned. Baroness Hanham, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, has made it clear that the Government would not support a ban for fears that it would drive up rents.

She was replying to a question from Lib Dem peer Lord Greaves.

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Court of Appeal ruling on tenancy deposits

Court of Appeal

Court of Appeal

A Court of Appeal judgement could have major consequences for the Private Rented Sector, and open landlords up to legal action from tenants, as landlords could have unknowingly broken the law in regards to the protection of a tenants deposit.

Protecting tenancy deposits did not become mandatory until April 6, 2007 so landlords, or their agents, did not protect deposits as they did not have to. At the time they were doing nothing wrong.

However, if a tenancy started before April 6, 2007 went on to become periodic it has been ruled that the landlord then should have protected the deposit.

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UPDATE: Landlord Immigration responsibilities clarified

Government

Government

The immigration plans, that looked like they were going to force millions of private landlords to check the immigration status of their tenants, are to be changed with the new rules only applying to certain ‘problem’ areas in the country.

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Landlords warned to take threat of fines over immigration seriously

Government

Government

Included in the Queen’s Speech were new rules that will make it mandatory for landlords, or their agents, to check the immigration status of every tenant that they rent to. If they fail to do this and let to tenants who are living illegally in this country then they could face heavy fines.

Property law specialists are advising landlords that the threat of fines should not be taken lightly. A similar set of rules were introduced four years ago to attempt to curb the number of illegal workers employed in the UK. These rules resulted in the UK Border Agency issuing nearly 7,000 notifications of liability and collecting in the region of £65m in fines.

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Landlords told to vet immigrant tenants

Queens Speech

Queens Speech

Under new Immigration laws, that were announced in the Queens Speech, private landlords will now be held legally responsible for vetting tenants and checking their immigration status. Landlords will need to seek copies of passports and appropriate visas before they should let their property to a prospective tenant.

Those that are found to have broken the law will find themselves facing fines that could run into thousands of pounds.

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The Requirement for Redress

Neil Young

Neil Young

The government is making moves to protect renters from the minority of lettings agencies who practice unscrupulous tactics. The current government is looking to amend the Regulatory Reform Bill to make it compulsory for all lettings and management agencies to sign up to an approved redress scheme, such as The Property Ombudsman Service. This would give renters the right to challenge their agent if the need arose.

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Court of Appeal ruling on rent paid in advance

Legal Ruling

Legal Ruling

The Court of Appeal has ruled that rent paid in advance does NOT constitute a deposit.

This landmark ruling means that landlords and agents are not obliged to treat rent recieved in advance as a deposit, which would require them to protect it in accordance with the Housing Act 2004.
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