The UK government introduced new guidelines on 6th April 2022 to ensure landlords or letting agents acting on behalf of landlords do not discriminate against potential tenants while enforcing existing Right to Rent regulations.
The guidelines apply to all new residential tenancy agreements and repeat checks on existing tenants on or after 6th April this year. What are the guidelines, and why have they been produced?
Why the Guidelines Have Been Issued
Under the 2014 Immigration Act, landlords and agencies in England are required to make Right to Rent checks on prospective tenants to ensure that they are legally able to rent privately. The legal responsibility to prevent anyone without a lawful immigration status from accessing private rental properties lies with landlords.
The new guidance ensures that landlords and agencies now also adhere to the 2010 Equality Act when making checks on prospective tenants to comply with the Immigration Act.
While the guide primarily focuses on making sure landlords do not open themselves up to potential legal action based on racial discrimination, all landlords and agencies must be aware of every protected characteristic covered by the Equality Act. This will protect them from legal action based on other forms of discrimination.
In addition to race, the Equality Act explicitly prohibits discrimination against people based on age, disability, gender identification, marital and parental status, religious beliefs, and sexuality. Each of these is a protected characteristic.
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How Does the Guide Help Landlords?
Many aspects of how the Equality Act covers race are relatively straightforward. For example, nationality, skin colour, and ethnicity are often readily apparent. The guide’s main benefit is demystifying some of the more ambiguous and less visible aspects of who the race-protected characteristic covers.
The act covers people whose ethnic and national origins differ from their nationality and instances where members of some religious groups, such as Jews and Sikhs, are considered separate racial groups.
Practical advice is provided to landlords and agencies by the guide on what to do and how to undertake checks on prospective tenants without running the risk of breaching the Equality Act on the grounds of direct or indirect race discrimination.
What Do the Guidelines Cover?
Landlords and agencies that follow the guidelines will avoid direct racial discrimination. It will help them to not make assumptions about a tenant’s legal access to a private rental based on their skin colour, nationality, accent, ethnic origins or length of UK residency.
In addition, the guidance sets out how landlords and agencies do not breach the Equality Act on the grounds of indirect racial discrimination when conducting Right to Rent checks. All prospective tenants must have their status checked by landlords, not just those suspected of being migrants. All tenants with a time-limited right to rent must not be favoured more or less favourably than anyone else, and tenants with access to the Home Office’s online checking service must not receive preferential treatment. Any of these actions would now be considered unlawful.
By understanding and following these new guidelines, landlords and agencies can ensure protection from potential legal action.
Letting Property in St Albans
Are you a landlord looking to let out your property in St Albans? At Daniels Estate Agents, we have extensive experience in helping landlords to successfully let their properties in the area. From let only to full property management, our expert team will offer advice and guidance at every step of the lettings process. For more details on our lettings services, call us on 01727 836561 or email email@example.com.