The Government has issued updated guidance about letting property to ‘Windrush’ people – long-term residents of the UK but who do not have documents to demonstrate their status.
However, the short, one-page guidance on Right to Rent leaves key questions unanswered and has been called a “fudge” by housing lawyer David Smith.
The guidance says that if a prospective tenant has lived in the UK permanently since before 1973 “and has not been away for long periods in the last 30 years”, they have the right to be in the UK and to rent.
However, it does not define what a “long period” might be.
Nor does it advise agents if they should check that someone has been in the UK since before 1973 – and if so, how – or whether they can safely take someone’s word for it.
The new guidance also says that if a prospective tenant came to the UK after January 1, 1973, they “might not have the automatic right to be here, but “they may be allowed to stay here permanently and will have the right to rent property”.
With the guidance peppered with “might” and “may”, it is hard to know what to make of this advice.
Landlords or agents concerned about a prospective tenant’s ability to evidence their Right to Rent, or concerned about the checks they are required to undertake are told to contact the Home Office. The telephone number is 0300 069 9799.
The guidance applies in England.
EYE has called for Right to Rent to be suspended immediately, while the Government sort out the Windrush scandal and assess whether Right to Rent has been effective, and whether it is fair to impose border police duties on agents, who risk both civil and criminal sanctions. We do not believe the latest advice offers any clarity whatsoever, and repeat our call.