The Home Office has announced last week the roll-out across England of Right to Rent checks as part of the Immigration Act 2014.
This means that from 1 February 2016 all private landlords and letting property in England will need to get ‘satisfactory evidence’ of entitlement to live in the UK from all prospective tenants and other adults who would be living with them:
- You’ll need to take copies of the relevant documentation and keep it for at least 12 months after the person’s tenancy has ended
- If a tenant has limited leave to live in the UK, you should repeat these checks 12th month after they begin their tenancy to make sure they’re still allowed to stay here
- Make sure you see the original copies of all necessary documents – it simply won’t be sufficient to see a copy of a passport or any visa documentation
- You’ll need to be happy that the documentation is genuine – the Home Office will have a phone line available to answer questions about this
- To make sure you don’t discriminate or make assumptions about people’s migration status, you’ll need to do these checks on all prospective tenants, including British citizens and those with the permanent right to live in the UK
- Of course, if at this stage you suspect that the applicant doesn’t have the right to remain in the UK or that the documents that they’ve supplied might have been forged, you’ll need to report them to the Home Office as soon as possible
For landlords letting a property in Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Dudley where the scheme was first piloted, the law is applicable from 1 December 2014.
For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the roll-out date is yet to be announced. And with seven landlords in the trial area already issued with civil penalties which can go up to £3,000 per illegal occupier, you might consider using a reputable letting agent to support you with this. Note that the law is also applicable to those that sub-let or take in lodgers.
So if you’re concerned with what this all means to you, drop in to your local Andrews branch. We work in partnership with our landlords to ensure that they’re fully compliant and support them navigating complex new areas of legislation that they need to be aware of. In fact, we’ve already ensured that we’re doing all necessary checks on tenants to determine their immigration status.