The ac­ci­den­tal land­lord

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Letting On -

TWELVE months af­ter the Gov­ern­ment made land­lords re­spon­si­ble for ver­i­fy­ing that their ten­ants have a le­gal right to live in the UK, I must ad­mit that while it’s a bit of a faff, the rules aren’t quite as dra­co­nian as I first feared.

For in­stance, I sud­denly re­mem­bered while dish­ing out roast pota­toes on Sun­day that the stu­dent visa of one of my ten­ants from South Korea, who moved into my flat six months ago, was due to ex­pire, and I ought to check asap that she’d got an ex­ten­sion. Oth­er­wise I could be pun­ished with a £3,000 fine for ac­ci­den­tally break­ing the law by let­ting the flat to an il­le­gal im­mi­grant. Or so I’d been led to be­lieve.

The ten­ant con­fessed she hadn’t yet re­ceived con­fir­ma­tion that her visa would be re­newed. She said she was con­fi­dent she would get an ex­ten­sion, but this might not come through for an­other few weeks, which left me caught be­tween a rock and a hard place.

I didn’t want to turf her out of the flat and suf­fer the has­sle of re-let­ting her room. But nei­ther did I want to risk let­ting to some­one with­out a valid res­i­dent’s per­mit.

Af­ter stress­ing overnight, I called the Gov­ern­ment’s Right to Rent Land­lord Helpline (0300 069 9799) to find out what would hap­pen if I let her re­main liv­ing in the flat once her visa had ex­pired.

The chap on the phone told me that as long as I had checked that the ten­ant had a right to live in the UK be­fore the ten­ancy be­gan, and as long as her pa­per­work was in or­der at that point, I had a 12-month ex­emp­tion from any pros­e­cu­tion.

He was quite clear that the 12month ex­emp­tion ap­plied even if her visa ex­pired dur­ing her ten­ancy and her ap­pli­ca­tion for an ex­ten­sion was re­fused. “100 per cent?” I asked. “100 per cent,” he told me. So, I was off the hook, and my ten­ant could

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