Does my estate agent really need all this personal information?

Q.  I am in the process of renting an apartment and am completely overwhelmed with how much personal information the Estate Agent is asking me to disclose. Apparently before they will even start the referencing process I must go to their office with my original ID, so passport and proof of address dated within the last three months. They also want a copy of my visa too?! I think this seems unreasonable, don’t you?

A.  The government’s Right to Rent scheme went live across England on the 1st February 2016, prior to that the scheme has been in operation in the West Midlands since December 2014. The new rules mean that landlords need to carry out checks on all new adult tenants to make sure they have the right to rent property in the country. Right to Rent, which also applies to people who are subletting their property or taking in lodgers, was introduced in the Immigration Act 2014. Landlords who fail to carry out checks risk a potential penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant. There are three categories where potential tenants’ right to rent fall. The first is an unlimited right to rent, the second a time limited right to rent and the third, no right to rent. Unlimited right to rent includes European Economic Area or Swiss nationals or people who have the right to reside in the UK, people who have been granted indefinite leave to remain, or those who have no time limit on their stay in the UK. Those that fall under the time-limited right are individuals that are allowed to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period of time; or they are entitled to enter or remain in the UK because of an enforceable right under the European Union law or any provision made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972. In such cases landlords are required to conduct follow-up checks to avoid a penalty at a future date. Finally, individuals with no right to rent and require permission to live in the UK and do not have it do not have the right to rent in the UK. Given the serious penalties imposed by HMRC on both Landlords and agents for noncompliance you may understand why your agent is requesting these documents.

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