The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, is asking people across our country who can provide a home for Ukrainians to consider being sponsors.
Phase One of the scheme opens for applications on 18 March 2022.
The guidance is currently limited, with more promised in the coming days, but the main points of the Homes for Ukraine scheme are:
- ‘sponsors’ may offer a room in their own house or a separate house;
- the accommodation must be rent free to the occupiers, but the government will pay the sponsor £350 per month.
- the accommodation being offered needs to be for a minimum term of six months
More detail from the Government is promised, but we have been asked a number of questions by people looking to provide accommodation, including as follows:
Will I need to carry out Right to Rent checks?
Under the Immigration Act 2014 landlords must check that a tenant or lodger can legally rent residential property in England.
Under the Homes for Ukraine scheme people arriving in the UK will be granted 3 years immigration permission, with entitlement to work, and access to benefits and public services. Although there is no specific mention of the "Right to Rent" scheme in the guidance, because scheme participants will be granted immigration permission, this will afford them a Right to Rent.
Will the Applicant be an assured shorthold tenant?
If the applicant is provided a single room in a home occupied by the owner or tenant of the property that would be a "resident landlord/lodger” type case where no security of tenure is provided to the applicant.
The position is not as clear where the applicant is provided a whole house. In that case a tenancy might be created. However, the tenancy would not be an assured shorthold tenancy as "tenancies at a low rent" or no rent are excluded from being assured tenancies by Schedule 1 to the Housing Act 1988. If a tenancy is created it would be a common law tenancy terminable by a Notice to Quit.
However, its most likely that the applicant would occupy the property as a mere licensee as there would be no intention to create legal relations. As Lord Greene MR said in Booker v Palmer "To suggest there is an intention there to create a relationship of landlord and tenant appears to me to be quite impossible. There is one golden rule which is of very general application, namely, that the law does not impute intention to enter into legal relationships where the circumstances and the conduct of the parties negative any intention of the kind”.
Is the £350 I will receive tax free?
The current guidance does not answer this, but the Secretary of State said to the House of Commons that the 'thank you' payment, which is limited to one payment per residential address for as long as you sponsor somebody for up to 12 months, is tax free and would not affect the council tax or welfare benefits position.
Is there anything else I should consider?
There will undoubtedly be issues that arise and it maybe that agencies take a lenient approach, but Sponsors should consider:
- whether they require a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence or a selective licence operated by some local authorities under Parts 2 or 3 of the Housing Act 2004.
- whether the property will be overcrowded. The Housing Act 1985 provides that a property is overcrowded where two or more people, ten or over, and of opposite sexes, not being people living together as partners have to sleep in the same room.
- speaking to their lenders as the mortgage might require the lender's consent.
- speaking to their landlords as it might be a breach of tenancy/lease to take in lodgers or part with possession of the whole or part of the property.
The UK will welcome as many Ukrainians, with their immediate family members, as wish to come and for whom there are sponsors. This is a huge humanitarian crisis, and we are urging the British public to come forward and help where they can.