The Immigration Act 2014, amended by the Immigration Bill 2015, places new restrictions on accessing private rented accommodation for those without a valid right to remain in the UK.
By law, landlords will be required to carry out document checks to identify if a potential tenant has the right to reside in the UK, before they grant a tenancy. Landlords will also be required to keep appropriate records during the tenancy and for at least twelve months after the tenancy has ended.
As a consequence, landlords who allow tenants without a so-called 'right to rent' to occupy their property will be liable for a civil penalty. This means private landlords letting property in these areas will have to check the right of prospective tenants to be in the country if they want to avoid potentially being fined up to £3,000. This includes landlords who take in lodgers or landlords and tenants who sub-let property.
In August 2015, the Government announced that a new Immigration Bill would amend further the rules on right to rent, introducing possible prison sentences for landlords who repeatedly failed to carry out checks. The Bill would also make it easier to evict existing tenants without a current right to rent. The Bill is now published and delivers on the commitment to allow landlords to evict on the basis of immigration status.
What does this mean for landlords?
The requirement to carry out document checks only applies to, at the moment with plans to enforce this across the UK in due course:
- landlords letting property located in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton
- all adults aged 18 and over living at the property
- new tenancy agreements starting on or after 1st December 2014
In most cases, landlords will simply need to check the tenant's passport or biometric residents permit prior to granting a tenancy. Landlords will need to check original documents and keep a copy and appropriate records during the tenancy and for up to twelve months after the tenancy has ended.
If tenants do not have their documents due to an ongoing Home Office application, or any other extenuating circumstance, please do contact Gherson Solicitors in order to enquire as to what this means for the Landlord in relation to the Immigration Checks.