“Who would want to move to Sheffield in weather like this?”, was what one landlord said to me as we shook hands outside his property, the other afternoon. It was windy, cold, it had been raining most of the day and it was the last appointment of the day at 4.45pm. I will admit, as I had been out of the office all day, I was looking forward to getting home, putting the fire on, and watching telly with a big mug of tea.. but this landlord lived in neighbouring Chesterfield and this was the earliest he could do.

City Centre Sign 6

It turned out he had been self-managing the property himself over the last few years, but was worried with all the new legislation that had been introduced recently. He was particularly concerned about the up and coming ‘Right to Rent’ legislation, so as his tenant had handed in their notice recently, on this new tenancy he called us for our opinion.

For those Sheffield landlords that don’t know, landlords will need to check the immigration status of any new tenants moving into properties from February 2016 or face a £3,000 fine. It is called the ‘Right to Rent’ rules. However, tenants should also be aware that as well as traditional landlords, tenants who sub let rooms and homeowners who take in lodgers, must also check the right of prospective tenants to reside in the UK.

Our landlord from Chesterfield wanted to know how much of a real issue was ‘Right to Rent’ in Sheffield. I was able to tell him, the last available figures (from a couple of years ago) show that 1,842 people (whom were registered as Non-UK Born Short-term Residents) moved into private rented accommodation in the Sheffield City Council area in one year alone. If all of those people weren’t supposed to be in the UK, that would be a fine of £5,526,000 to the landlords of the City.

It doesn’t sound a lot when you think there are 518,090 residents in Sheffield City Council area, and of those, 454,307 people (or 87.69%) were born in the UK. But Sheffield is a cosmopolitan city as the country of birth of the residents in the Sheffield City Council area can be split down as follows:

  • UK 69%
  • Ireland 34%
  • Europe 61%
  • Africa 33%
  • Middle East and Asia 00%
  • Americas and Caribbean 85%
  • Australia and Pacific region 14%

However, it must also be recognised that landlords, by checking up on tenants, could potentially be accused of discrimination under the Equality Act. This is a real minefield for landlords, especially when you consider that not all of the 13,521 Europeans in the area necessarily have the right to live in the UK either.

In a nutshell, Sheffield landlords will need to check and retain copies of certain documents that show a potential tenant has the right to live in the UK. These include ….

  • UK Passport
  • EEA Passport/Identity card
  • Travel document or Permanent Residence Card showing indefinite leave to remain
  • Paperwork from Home Office stating their Immigration status
  • Certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen.

I hope the new law will target dishonest landlords who repeatedly fail to carry out Right to Rent checks by making it a criminal offence. This means they could face imprisonment for failing to check on their tenants. That is why more and more landlords are asking agents to manage their properties, so they can stay the right side of the law.

So what did our landlord do?

Well after our chat, he asked us to find a tenant and manage the property for him – he had been reading the Sheffield Property Blog for a while and because of the knowledge we impart to the landlords of Sheffield, we obviously know what we are talking about.  Even better news for him, even though this would cost him agency fees, I was able to get him an additional £35 per month for his property (when we found him a tenant one week later). Now, together with the peace of mind we will keep him the right side of the law and put a stop to midnight phone calls complaining about dripping taps, it was a win-win situation for everyone.