Residential Landlords - Requirement to carry out immigration checks

A pilot scheme with the aim of introducing restrictions on illegal immigrants accessing private rented housing has been considered successful and will now be rolled out across the country, with plans for it to commence as soon as the autumn.

When these provisions come into force, landlords will be prohibited from letting residential accommodation to individuals who have been disqualified from the right to rent by virtue of their immigration status. This will only apply to new tenancies from the date that the scheme is implemented. It will include not only tenancy agreements but also agreements where the property is to be occupied as their only or main home, or where all or part of the home is being rented out, for example, when taking in a lodger or when subletting. Existing tenants or renewals of those tenancies after this date aren’t affected as long as any renewed agreement is between the same people and there is no break in the tenancy.

There are certain types of accommodation that the rules don’t apply to, including student halls of residence, even if they’re managed privately, and any accommodation provided by universities and colleges for their students.

Importantly, the provisions do not just cover tenants but all occupants over the age of 18 at the property, meaning that even if an individual is not named on the tenancy agreement, they are still subject to the checks.

All occupants with UK, EU and Swiss passports will have an automatic right to rent; for anyone else landlords will have to check that they have the necessary paperwork in place. These checks must be done in person, and copies must be taken of all necessary documents and retained for the length of the tenancy plus at least 12 months after the tenancy expires. Landlords must securely store any documents containing personal or sensitive data, and must not keep any original documents. Failure to carry out these checks might result in fines of up to £3,000.

Additionally, the relevant documents must be verified every twelve months or on the expiry of the person’s permission to be in the UK, whichever is later, to ensure that the individual’s right to rent continues for the whole period that they occupy the property. It is, therefore, prudent for a landlord (or their managing agent) to carry out frequent inspections of their properties to ensure that they are aware of who all of the occupants of the property are and have completed the necessary checks for all occupants.

Typical documents that a landlord can check include a passport, national identity card, residence card or certificate of registration or naturalisation. If none of these are available, two other specified documents will satisfy the checks. The government have put several resources online to help landlords, and there is a full list of acceptable documents in a Code of Practice produced by the Home Office, which can be accessed through the website.

It is claimed that in most cases it will only take a few minutes to do the checks as all the landlord is required to do is check the tenant’s passport or biometric residents permit. If the tenant does not have the right documents, landlords can request a check using an online form which should provide a response within two days.

Posted on 08/05/2015 by Ortolan

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