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Kelvin McCarthy

New rules on illegal immigrants will affect Wiltshire landlords

Landlords in Wiltshire are being urged to be aware of new rules on screening tenants, which could soon be rolled out across the UK.

Swindon-based Tenant Screening, which provides a vetting service to residential landlords and letting agents across the country, says the new Right to Rent scheme being piloted is likely to go nationwide imminently and will have an impact on the rental sector.

The aim of the scheme is to clamp down on illegal immigrants living in private rental property. Similar to the Government’s Right to Work legislation, the rules will ensure those who rent have a right to be in the country.

“From December, the Right to Rent legislation is being piloted in various locations in the Midlands and it’s a fair bet that this will be rolled-out nationwide early in 2015,” said Kelvin McCarthy, screening manager at Tenant Screening.

“The onus is on the landlord to carry out certain checks on prospective tenants to see if they have a right to rent in this country. If they don’t, and a property is rented out, landlords could face a fine of up to £3,000 per tenant found to be living illegally.”

Tenant Screening, based in Commercial Road, was created in 2010 to offer landlords and letting agents across the UK a screening service for potential tenants. Kelvin and his team can make a number of checks on would-be tenants ranging from credit checks, residency and ID verification, to employment and landlord referencing, as well as identifying court or insolvency information held against the prospective tenant.

The turnover of tenants is notoriously high; a YouGov survey last year found nearly six in ten buy-to-let landlords had arranged new tenancies and renewals in the previous 12 months and 29 per cent had had tenants with financial or other problems.

Kelvin says it is vital to check out potential tenants before handing them the keys to a property, and the Right to Rent scheme along with comprehensive screening will give landlords further peace of mind when housing a tenant.

He said: “Under Right to Rent, in most cases landlords will simply need to check the tenant’s passport or biometric resident’s permit. However in cases where tenants don’t have their documents due to an ongoing Home Office application, landlords can request a check using an online form through the Home Office.”

Tenant Screening has created a useful help guide designed to answer common questions landlords have regarding the Right to Rent scheme; the guide also includes details on which documents can be accepted along with a list of useful additional resources. The guide can be downloaded by visiting