Industry trade body Propertymark has said no rental entitlement checks will be required by rental agents on Ukrainian refugees – although there is still no official government confirmation .
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark, says inquiries have spiked in recent weeks as some 100,000 people – many of them homeowners – have signed up for the official Homes for Ukraine scheme.
One of the main questions asked by officers is whether rent entitlement checks will need to be carried out. Until further information is provided by the UK Government, Propertymark says it understands no rent entitlement checks need to be carried out as “no rent is charged”.
Douglas says: ‘This advice has not yet been fully confirmed by the UK Government, as the Home Office would normally expect tenancy entitlement checks to be undertaken against any adult individual who was occupying a property in England, regardless of his responsibility for rent. ”
Individual sponsors who wish to provide houses or a spare room to rent for free for as long as they can with a minimum stay of six months in return, will receive an ex gratia payment of £350 per month for up to 12 months, what to do in arrears.
Where tenants want to offer a room they will need the landlord’s consent and the UK government will check that the landlord’s permission has been given.
For those who own properties through a limited liability company, there could be negative tax implications in offering a home to a refugee under the scheme as it is currently published, and Propertymark has warned that independent advice should be sought before proceeding.
If rent is charged, even an extra up to £350, agents should be aware that this would grant tenancy rights and likely create a tenancy that complies with all associated legal requirements.
Douglas continues: “The legal interpretation means that rent does not have to be ‘money’ in the accepted sense of the word. It can be a “money value”. In theory, this could include the provision of services by a customer, such as gardening or decorating, which could then be treated as a rental payment.
The accommodation must be habitable and suitable for the number of people to be accommodated. Sponsors are not expected to cover food and living expenses.
The UK government has recently clarified that under licensing schemes where housing is used as accommodation for those fleeing conflict in Ukraine under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, local authorities are being asked to take a pragmatic approach to demanding that these properties are allowed.
For HMOs, since no rent is payable for accommodation under the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the government does not expect councils to require such accommodation to obtain an HMO license.
Where a host does not wish to continue the arrangement beyond six months, they should notify the guest well in advance (ideally two months) so that alternative arrangements can be made.
Douglas concludes: “We continue to monitor developments in Ukraine and are working with the Department of Upgrading, Housing and Communities to respond to ongoing issues and feedback from Propertymark members. A free download of the FAQ can be found here: www.propertymark.co.uk/resource/faqs-homes-for-ukraine.html.”