As you may already know, a new Immigration Bill came into force this year, and with it; landlords will soon be required to check the immigration status of all new tenants before granting them permission to move into a residence.
On 1st December 2014, the regulations will come into effect in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. It is expected that they will then roll out across the rest of the UK in 2015.
This bill will enable the Government to both ensure that all tenants in the UK are living here legally and to crack down on rogue landlords, who exploit illegal migrants by providing them with substandard and often overcrowded accommodation, or so-called ‘beds in sheds’.
These simple checks will mirror what employers are already asked to do during their recruitment processes– simply ensuring the applicant has the legal right to reside in the UK.
This will be done by landlords requesting proof of prospective tenants’ right to live in the UK, checking that the documents are valid and genuine, and keeping a copy of the documents as evidence that the checks have been undertaken.
The scheme will only apply to new tenants, so there’s no need to check your existing tenants, although there are some steps to take when renewing their contracts. Likewise, if you suspect any of your current tenants of being in the UK illegally, there are ways to report it to the Home Office anonymously.
If a landlord is found to be knowingly renting a property to an illegal immigrant, or to not have followed the checks, a civil penalty of up to £3,000 could be imposed.
We’re putting the finishing touches to an exciting new solution, that will help you more easily check a tenant’s right to rent, and which will become part of your normal referencing service. The Government’s details on the exact criteria for the checks are still subject to change, so we’ll let you know more about our product enhancement once we’re sure it will be the best possible tool to help you to manage your obligations under the scheme.
We understand that the new regulations could seem daunting, so we’ve put together a comprehensive list of FAQs, to help you understand how the changes will affect you and best practice to help you avoid being penalised.
Please note: Information correct at the time of publishing (September 2014) but subject to change. Please refer to the Home Office website for the most current guidance. You can also subscribe to the Home Office’s Right to Rent newsletter to receive the latest information direct to your inbox.