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Right to Rent - Hurdles and Difficulties

2nd Feb 2016

Category: Property headlines


Simply put, the idea is to have extra immigration control at the point any individual tries to rent a house. Sensible policy thought maybe, but not everyone is going to find this easy...

The hurdles and difficulties

I'm going to get straight to the point.  If you don't own a passport (as many as 20% of us, some sources say more - if anyone can improve this statistic, please comment below), find your Driving Licence & Birth Certificate.  If you haven't recently committed a crime, claimed benefits or generally dealt with your Local Authority and therefore have easy access to Government headed paper - you may find it difficult, but on some occasions impossible to rent a property without putting in place some serious planning.

Some of our property in Nottingham is rented to groups of student friends.  They want to sign for a house, collect the keys in the future (often 6-9 months later) and move in nice and smoothly.  However, as agents and landlords, we must now identify every occupier, in person or via live video link, having original documents in our hands - copies not accepted.  Try organising hundreds of students to give you their real passport, when it is tucked away at their parent or guardian's house.

One example issue is this:

6 student friends sign for a 6 bed house.  Every tenant MUST be identified, original documents, in person (or via live link - not that useful when you need the original documents anyway).  However, Jack is terrible at his admin (believe us, we know!), and Phoebe who wants to move in promptly in the summer to start her Nursing Placement, can't.  Why?  Jack lost his passport, doesn't drive and cannot get a letter from the University to confirm his course details, because the University is not going to want to issue thousands of letters on demand (must be dated within 3 months of the Right to Rent checks taking place) to help prove who they are - as one University Accommodation office just said on the phone to me today - "We don't help students in the private rented sector".  Student IDs do not count! So, Phoebe now has no accommodation, because 100% of the household did not appropriately identify themselves, through no fault of her own and in some sense, through no fault of Jack's, after all he'd never needed a Passport or Driving Licence before!  How long does it take and cost to get a Passport or Driving Licence these days...?

Some people might be thinking, well, Phoebe has identified herself so just move her in and don't allow Jack access.  Well, I'm afraid we can't.  The Mortgage company has insisted we issue a Joint and Several Tenancy Agreement, meaning all six people are the ONE TENANT, in legal terms.  That means, we cannot allow anyone to enter, unless we allow everyone to enter.  Jack has now stopped Phoebe from smoothly moving in - and she is going to struggle to do her Nursing Placement. We hope @JBrokenshire, UK Immigration Minister, is listening; we're tweeting you a link to this short Blog.

Tenant Advice

If you don't have a passport; Make sure you have a driving licence and birth certificate originals ready....  If you're going to be sending these off for other purposes (Buying Premium Bonds), make sure you're not going to need them first for collecting the keys to your new house.  Make sure any housemates like Jack have theirs too, otherwise Phoebe, you won't be moving in anytime soon!

Full Legislative details in the link below:


I'm not even going to begin to highlight the potential problems facing Overseas Students...

Phil Ashford

Comfort Partner

An experienced Chartered Accountant and a Founding Partner of Comfort Lettings.

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