Right To Rent App makes checks fair & simple for LME Move’s landlords & tenants alike

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LME Move clinches deal to bring innovative Right To Rent App to landlords and letting agents nationwide

Home Office LogoThe 1st of February 2016 marks a critical day for residential landlords throughout England. It is from this date onwards that all landlords will be legally responsible for checking that all new tenancies issued for their properties are only made to persons legally entitled to reside within England.

Failure to do so may result in offending landlords being hit by a £3,000 fine for every instance where an illegal tenant is found in-situ.

Legally required on all new tenancies across England as of 1st February 2016

The roll-out across England follows on from the pilot scheme trialled in the West Midlands during 2015. At the time the scheme brought controversial issues to light including worrying findings published in a report by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which found that landlords in the West Midlands were refusing lawful tenants as they became increasingly cautious about renting properties out to any tenant with identity documents with which they were not familiar.

As supporters of initiatives such as Leeds Empties and being one of the leading, ethically minded independent nationwide property services suppliers in the UK, www.lmemove.com was concerned to read about this outcome.  So much so that when LME Move started its own business planning for suitable Right To Rent solutions in late 2015 it made a concerted effort to ensure any such solution would not only make the checks quick and easy to do but also help reduce the chances of such adverse discriminating side-effects.

Cost effective, Home Office compliant, quick to use and multi-platform

Thankfully the search has borne fruit and LME Move has now sealed a deal with a cutting edge App developer to bring its quick and easy to use Right To Rent App to LME Move’s nationwide landlord and letting agent client base across England.

Speaking last week, LME Move’s Compliance Executive Sue Clear said, ‘We are thrilled to be working in collaboration with our App partners. We spent the best part of Autumn 2015 in talks with several providers to review potential Right To Rent solutions to bring to our clients.

What was important for us was:

  • cost effectiveness
  • accessibility via smartphone, tablet and PC
  • ease of use
  • ability to quickly scan and store time/date stamped evidence of document checks carried out to ensure our clients remain Home Office compliant.

However,  just as importantly the solution also had to possess the ability to quickly guide and support our clients – through a fast click, by click, process – to drill down the exact documents they should expect their specific tenants to be supplying to them out of the hundreds of various documents possible.’

6297298Simple and fair – the Right To Rent App that’s child’s play

The Right To Rent App is exactly that.

As Sue finished explaining, ‘The landlord or agent simply answers the step by step questions via the App about their specific tenants’ circumstances and the App guides the landlord or agent through the entire process and documentation in a matter of minutes.

It is our hope that not only will this help educate our landlord and agent clients as to the variety of documents but also help them avoid consciously or unconsciously erring on the side of caution and only issuing tenancies to tenants presenting more familiar, everyday documents.’

Prepare ahead of 1st February 2016 and find out more5292794

Interested landlords and agents searching for a Right To Rent solution can read more about the service on the LM Experts website here. They can also contact LME Move’s International Marketing Director directly for full product information, demonstration and pricing exclusive to LME Move via: mark@lmemove.com

Further information about LME Move’s full range of other nationwide property services for landlords, letting agents and property investors – including gas safety certificates, boiler services, electrical safety certificates, legionella risk assessments, smoke & CO alarms, RICs surveys, out of hours emergency property services and building, plumbing and electrical maintenance services can also be obtained from: mark@lmemove.com or by visiting www.lmemove.comLME Logo

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Sue’s Rental Compliance Blog – January 2016 – Deregulation Dangers!

Sue Clear is Compliance Executive at www.lmemove.com

Sue Clear is Compliance Executive at http://www.lmemove.com

Landlords – do you know how to avoid falling foul of the Deregulation Act?

Happy New Year and welcome back to what I sense promises to be another full on year for the Lettings and wider property sector.

This month I thought I’d highlight several of the problems landlord’s can run into that are linked to the recently passed Deregulation Act, and how to best protect yourself from potential trouble ahead.

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Andy’s Auction Blog 18th January 2016 – Now’s the time to swerve the Stamp Duty hike

andys-blog (2)

Usually our first week of the New Year is a bit of a slow burner, with people taking their time to get back in the swing of things and start thinking about property again. From the moment we reopened on the 4th January, we have been inundated with frantic property buyers desperately trying to find their next purchase(s). We are receiving offers on houses within MINUTES of them going live on our website and our valuers can’t book them into the auction quickly enough.

So why the rush?

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Sprinklers for converted and new Welsh homes affect landlords as of 1st January 2016

Welsh sprinklersA new law requiring that all new and converted homes in Wales be fitted with sprinklers has come into force, the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

CFOA Vice-President Dave Etheridge attended an event at the Welsh Senedd on January 12th to celebrate the introduction of the new law. The event was hosted by Ann Jones AM, who was one of the key drivers behind the campaign to see the legislation introduced.

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Latest report from Kate Faulkner: Housing and Planning Bill: Good, bad and ugly!

Kate Faulkner

Kate Faulkner of Property Checklists

Latest report from Kate Faulkner: Housing and Planning Bill: Good, bad and ugly!

According to the government, the Housing & Planning Bill will “transform generation rent into generation buy”. Is there any truth to this claim? Well, I’ve taken a look at the impact this bill is really going to have – the good, bad and ugly bits!

So you can pretty quickly work out this isn’t something that intends to help tenants at all and, as such, also doesn’t help buy-to-let investors. But developers and first-time buyers can look forward to a steady run over the next few years.

And although more new builds being planned will help boost agents’ business, the likely loss of buy-to-let business and the continued expectation of a lack of stock for buyers and rents means they will continue to take the brunt of the government’s and local authorities’ lack of ability to provide enough homes for population of the UK.

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Could State Aid Law protect Buy-to-Let Landlords?

Stephen Daly Tax At Lincoln Ox

Stephen Daly of Tax at Lincoln Ox

The Guardian and The Telegraph have posted articles in the last week picking up the quandary of buy-to-let landlords. By a combination of changes in the summer budget and autumn statement, the previously lucrative venture whereby landlords would purchase property with the sole intention of renting has now been placed “in the red”. Landlords could previously claim tax relief on mortgage interest payments at the marginal rate, but from April 2017 to 2020, this will gradually be reduced to 20% (the ‘Clause 24’ change). “Wear and tear allowance” previously allowed landlords to deduct 10% from rental profits, but from April 2016 will only be granted for costs actually incurred. Meanwhile, George Osborne used the autumn statement to increase stamp duty on purchases of buy-to-let and second homes by 3%.

Landlords unsurprisingly are less than happy with the legislative changes. A group representing 250 landlords is seeking to launch a legal challenge by way of judicial review of the Finance (No. 2) Act 2015 enacting the ‘Clause 24’ change to mortgage relief (see: s. 24). As The Guardian reports, the group claims that the measure breaches Human Rights Law and EU Law, whilst The Telegraph reports the group as claiming that the move flouts “a long-established principle of taxation that expenses incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the business are deductible when calculating the taxable profits”. It would seem from these statements that the claims pivot upon establishing that the new legislation breaches either Article 1, Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (‘A1P1’), some common law right or EU State Aid Law. These are my rough guesses based upon very rough information. Although the former two will have little prospect of success in the courts, the latter EU Law point could well have some bite. This will be used as a springboard for a more general discussion about the development of EU State Aid Law

Excerpt kindly shared by Stephen Daly of taxatlincolnox. Read the full article

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3% surcharge on Scottish Land & Building Transaction Tax for second homes & buy-to-let

John Swinney announces move to match Chancellor George Osbourne

Scottish Saltire
In yesterday’s Budget, John Swinney, finance minister for Scotland, matched the move made by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement and introduced a 3% surcharge on Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT, Scotland’s equivalent to stamp duty) for purchases of second homes and buy-to-let property.

Read more

 

Why war on Buy To Let market will make the housing crisis worse

The last six months have felt like a sustained assault on the very foundations of the buy-to-let market.

1671h0044Landlords sighed with relief at the Conservative victory in the General Election in May. Faced with the threat of rent controls from the Labour Party, they had looked forward to a government that accepted the importance of the rental market, and supported its development while properly targeting the crooks renting out sub-standard accommodation.
But these last six months have felt like a sustained assault on the very foundations of the buy-to-let market.

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Sue’s Compliance Blog December 2015 – £3000 fine? Ready for Right To Rent?

Avoid a £3000 fine.

Are you ready for Right To Rent?

Sue Clear

It’s been a busy time for landlords of late – new laws, regulations, tax changes coming out of the woodwork left, right and centre. It’s no wonder many smaller landlords wonder whether the Government has the knives out for them! That said, change happens and like all new things most of the fear comes from the unknown.

Once you know exactly what is involved you can set about getting on with business.

This month I’m focusing on the looming Right To Rent checks that from the 1st February 2016 ALL landlords (or letting agents acting on their behalf) are required to make on ALL tenants commencing a new rental contract.

So what is Right To Rent and what do you need to know / do?

About Right To RentGov. Logo

The view of many landlords is that Right To Rent is effectively the Government’s way of discharging some of its duties to check the legal immigration status of people within the UK. It is illegal to rent property to any person(s) who is/are not legally entitled to remain within the UK.

As of 1st February 2016, Right To Rent makes it a legal requirement that landlords or their agents must carry out a range of checks that a tenant or lodger can legally rent a residential property within the UK. Landlords who fail to do so (or ensure their letting agent has done so) can be fined up to £3000 if they rent their property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK.

A useful checking tool to walk you through the steps can be found here.

When?

So when must you carry out Right To Rent checks? The guidance states that these must take place within 28 days before the start of a new tenancy. Landlords must make checks for:

  • all adult tenants (aged 18 and over)
  • all types of tenancy agreements, written or oral

That said, tenants in some types of accommodation (such as social housing and care homes) won’t need to be checked. You can find the full guidance here

All landlords in England will have to make checks from 1 February 2016.

How do you make checks?

To remain within the law and avoid a potential £3000 fine landlords or letting agents acting on their behalf must:

  1. Check which adults will live at the rental property as their only or main home.
  2. See the original documents that allow the tenant to live in the UK.
  3. Check that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant, with the tenant present.
  4. Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.

Landlords can be fined up to £3,000 for renting a property to someone who isn’t allowed to stay in the UK.

With regards to checking the original documents, with the tenant(s) present. The Government has issued guidance stating that it will be acceptable to check via Skype or some other type of video link if a tenant is not able to attend a face to face meeting with the landlord or agents.

The full landlord’s guide to checking and list of all documents that are acceptable to comply with the Right To Rent checks can be found here.

How do you check that the property is used as the tenant’s only or main home?

Under the guidance, a property will usually be classed as a tenant’s only or main home if:

Check their original documents

The law is clear that landlords or their agents need to check that:

  • the documents are originals and belong to the tenant
  • the dates for the tenants’ right to stay in the UK haven’t expired
  • the photos on the documents look like the tenant
  • the dates of birth are the same in all documents (and are believable)
  • the documents aren’t too damaged or don’t look like they’ve been changed
  • if any names are different on documents, there are supporting documents to show why, eg marriage certificate or divorce decree

If the tenant is arranging their tenancy from overseas, landlords or their agents must see their original documents before they start living at the property.

You can read the full guidance on illegal immigrants and private rented accommodation here.

Make a copy of the documents

When landlords or agents copy the documents you must:

  • make a copy that can’t be changed, eg a photocopy
  • for passports, copy every page with the expiry date or applicant’s details (eg nationality, date of birth and photograph), including endorsements, eg a work visa or Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode in the UK
  • copy both sides of biometric residence permits
  • make a complete copy of all other documents
  • record the date you made the copy

It’s vital that you keep copies of the tenant’s documents for the time they’re your tenants and for one year after. This allows you to evidence that you have discharged your duties fully under the new law.

Remember – make sure you follow data protection law to ensure that you are storing tenant’s data securely. Full guidance can be found here.

Additional checks

You must make a further check on a tenant if their permission to stay in the UK is time limited. Landlords or their agents can receive a fine (also known as a civil penalty) if they don’t do this.

You must make a further check either:

  • just before the expiry date of your tenant’s right to stay in the UK
  • within 12 months of your previous check

You won’t have to make a further check if your tenant doesn’t have any restrictions on their right to stay in the UK.

If your tenant doesn’t pass a further check

If you find that your tenant does not pass the original or subsequent checks then you must tell the Home Office. You might receive a civil penalty if you don’t if you find out that your tenant no longer has the right to rent or stay in the UK.

Landlords and agents can choose to evict tenants who do not have the right to remain in the UK if they want to. You must follow the rules for evicting tenants.

Where lodgers are concerned – you can choose to end your tenancy agreement with them. How much notice you give your lodger will depend on which type of tenancy they have with you.

Agents

The legal duty for carrying out Right To Rent checks rests with landlords. However, landlords can ask any agents that manage or let their property to carry out the check for them. If you are opting for this route then you should ensure that you have this agreement in writing. Letting agents are also advised to ensure that they have covered this understanding and agreement in writing to carry out the checks on a landlord’s behalf. Letting agents should carry out all of the steps above, including retaining copies of the documentation checked.

Sub-letting

This is a contentious issue. The Deregulation Act made it easier for tenants to sub-let a rental property. Technically, under Right To Rent if a tenant sub-lets the property without you knowing, then they are responsible for carrying out checks on any sub-tenants. Under this scenario they will then be liable for any civil penalties if they don’t carry out the checks correctly.

Phew…so as you can see, Right To Rent certainly adds a fair bit of extra administration work to the mix for landlords and agents. This is in addition to the new compliance laws introduced 1st October 2015 in England and Wales and 1st December 2015 in Scotland regarding the fitting of CO alarms – see my November blog post here. However as a responsible landlord or letting agent, with a little bit of careful forward planning now Right To Rent needn’t be a nightmare.

To help our clients further, LME Move is able to assist landlords and agents with the delivery of a Right To Rent administrative facility to ease the pain. Feel free to contact myself or one of our team if you’d like further information / advice.

Wishing you all a peaceful festive season and until 2016!

Sue

Sue Clear is Property Compliance Executive at LME Move.

Got a question for Sue or need further Right To Rent advice?

Get in touch with Sue and her colleagues here

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