FCC Paragon felt that the forthcoming pilot scheme, which is due to commence in the West Midlands on 1 December 1, will be “onerous” for both landlords and agents, and will be “unlikely to tackle immigration problems.” A spokeswoman for the firm highlighted the length and complexity of the checking process as being potential hindrances.
Four years ago, FCC Paragon submitted a proposal to the government to trial a free tenant checking service, which would determine whether a tenant would be entitled to live and work in the UK.
FCC Paragon’s Operations Director Janie Gaston commented:
“Tenant referencing is our core business and our experience in this field enables us to clearly identify what measures should be implemented, without putting the onus on landlords and letting agents.”
The firm’s proposal was initially rejected, but following this week’s meeting, the home secretary has requested that it submits a revised proposal to her directly 2.
Earlier this month, a study found that four out of five landlords are unaware of the new legislation 3, which is set to be rolled out across the UK next year. The areas affected by the West Midlands pilot scheme from 1 December this year will be Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
The penalty for letting out a property to a tenant who does not have the right to reside in the UK could be a fine of up to £3,000. This has raised concerns, first sparked when the legislation was announced earlier this year, that landlords might be inclined to discriminate against foreign tenants in order to avoid the possibility of a fine.
This leaves landlords between a rock and a hard place, as doing so is also against the law, and can itself result in fines and even prosecution.
- Guidance for landlords carrying out right to rent checks
- Government factsheet: Tackling illegal immigration in privately rented accommodation
- Download and update your tenancy agreement template