The Home Office's "Right to Rent" scheme trial, introduced in the West Midlands on 1 December 2014, has led to a landlord being fined around £2,000. This is the first and only reported penalty that has resulted from the Right to Rent scheme trial which is expected to be implemented nationwide from September 2015.
Landlords and letting agents in the West Midlands must check both the nationality and visa status of their tenants, with penalties being issued per tenant found to have no right to rent.
As well as preventing those who do not have a right to rent from doing so, the scheme also aims to "act as a new line of attack against unscrupulous landlords who exploit people by renting out overcrowded and unsafe accommodation". Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire
It is intended that, in the majority of cases, private landlords need only check a person's documents once before allowing them to live in their property, as they will be British, EEA or Swiss nationals, or non-EEA nationals who have the right to be in the UK indefinitely.
However, as the burden to check the immigration status of tenants becomes evermore cumbersome in a highly competitive lettings market, there is a growing concern that potential non-EEA tenants may be cast aside in favour of British or EEA tenants. In such scenarios, immigration checks could potentially, albeit perhaps non-intentionally, contravene anti-discrimination laws.
The specific facts of the case in the West Midlands that has led to a landlord being fined are unknown, however it has been reported that the landlord in question is appealing the fine.