New regulations came into force at the start of February requiring landlords to check the immigration status of all tenants and ensure non-British nationals have a valid UK visa to be in the country.
But according to research by the Residential Landlord Association (RLA), nine out of 10 landlords have not received information from the Government about the Right to Rent programme or their responsibilities under it.
The report also found that 70 per cent were not clear about their obligations to check a potential tenant’s immigration status before agreeing to let property to them.
After February 1, any landlord who is discovered to have let property to someone who is not a British national, EU citizen or who does not have the correct UK visa, faces a first time fine of up to £1,000 and £3,000 for further offences under the regulations.
RLA policy director, Dr David Smith, told The Guardian: “The Government argues that its ‘right to rent’ plans form part of a package to make the UK a more hostile environment for illegal immigrants.
“The evidence shows that it is creating a more hostile environment for good landlords and legitimate tenants. Landlords are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”
The Right to Rent scheme was piloted in the West Midlands and has already been criticised for laying landlords open to accusations of racism if they do not let properties to overseas tenants or those with foreign names. It’s also feared that poorer people and younger renters will find it more difficult to secure privately rented accommodation.
Nicola Thivessen, head of compliance at Chestertons estate agency in London, said: “As some landlords are likely to feel that the new legislation is a bureaucratic minefield, they may think they can play safe by only renting to British people. This is absolutely not the case, as this is tantamount to discrimination.”