The government has been accused of failing to prepare the country’s buy to let landlords for the impact of Brexit, one leading landlord organisation warns.
The Residential Landlords’ Association (RLA) says the government has yet to publish any guidance for landlords in England on how the Right to Rent scheme is likely to operate after Brexit.
The RLA says this is a ‘government failure’ and growing numbers of landlords are voicing their concerns that EU citizens will face issues in finding and renting accommodation once the UK leaves the European Union.
For those tenants in England, under the Right to Rent scheme a landlord is responsible for checking the potential tenant’s immigration status and whether they have the right to rent a home.
Failure to check their tenant’s immigration status could lead to the landlord’s prosecution if they have, or know of, a reasonable cause to believe that the tenant does not have the right to rent.
Landlords have had no specific guidance
However, with around two in three of the EU nationals living in the UK currently in private rental accommodation, the RLA says landlords have had no guidance on what will happen in the future.
To confuse matters, a High Court judge last month ruled that the European Convention on Human Rights had been breached because Right to Rent led to the inadvertent discrimination of non-UK nationals.
Now, the RLA has carried out research that suggests around one in five landlords are now unlikely to rent to EU nationals as a result of Right to Rent – a figure the association says looks set to increase after Brexit.
The RLA’s policy director, David Smith, said: “Landlords cannot be expected to know who does and does not have the right to live in the UK. They are not border police.
“The government should publish practical and clear guidance about the implication of Brexit for landlords on who they cannot and can rent to.
Landlords will become fearful over renting to non-UK nationals
He added: “If they don’t, then landlords will become fearful over renting to non-UK nationals with the prospect of being prosecuted. The result will see them avoiding renting to anyone who is not a UK national, which will make life difficult for EU nationals post-Brexit.”
The Right to Rent rules were introduced three years ago and they leave a landlord with the prospect of being hit with up to £5,000 in fines per adult tenant should they be found to be renting out their property to an illegal immigrant.
The RLA says that the Right to Rent legislation and Brexit is ‘having a chilling effect’ on the country’s rental sector and the government must publish clear guidelines on how Right to Rent will work that landlords can adhere to.