Expat landlords with UK buy to let properties face more red tape

Published:  20 Nov at 6 PM
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It seems as though it’s open season for expats with property in the UK, whether it’s a second home or an investment in buy-to-let property.

Earlier this summer, the government announced consultations on a scheme involving letting agents and landlords being forced to check tenants’ immigration status should the proposed tenancy last for over three months. The scheme brought immediate protests from letting agents and landlords both in the UK overseas, all of whom resented doing the UK Border Agency’s job as well as their own.

Concerns were also raised that letting agencies could not be expected to determine whether or not a prospective tenant was legally in the country or was using a fake identity. Human rights groups became worried that, if passed, the law would lead to ‘British only’ signs in letting agents’ windows.

Since then, amendments have been made, and the trial of the scheme will now take place in a pilot district following the 2015 election. Amendments are also being made to satisfy concerns that, if a tenant was found to be an illegal despite checks, landlords or agents could no longer collect rental payments, nor could the tenant be evicted.

The new rule is still very likely to be implemented, although what will happen should the present coalition government face its own eviction in the 2015 election is as yet unclear. Either way, expats relying on rentals for their day-to-day needs overseas are likely to find their lives even more subject to red tape, and letting agents may well decide to increase their fees to cover extra staff needed to comply with the legislation.
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