Landlords required to check right of prospective tenants

Under the Immigration Act 2014, landlords, including those who take in lodgers or sub-let property, will be required to check the right of prospective tenants to be in the UK before letting a property to them. These new rules will be piloted from 1 December 2014, but only in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton. Subject to this being successful, the rules will then be introduced in the rest of the UK, probably at some point after May 2015. 
Section 22 of the Immigration Act 2014 states that a landlord must not rent property to an adult under a “residential tenancy agreement” unless the adult is a British citizen, or EEA or Swiss national, or has a “right to rent” in the UK. This means they must be in the UK lawfully in accordance with immigration laws. The term “residential tenancy agreement” is widely defined, and includes any lease, licence (i.e. lodgers), sub-lease or sub-tenancy, or an agreement for any of these. 
Landlords who breach the provisions face a civil penalty of up to £3,000. This can be avoided by conducting simple document checks. In most cases, a landlord will be able to carry out the checks without contacting the Home Office. Evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship, e.g. a passport or biometric residence permit, must be checked. 
From 1 December 2014, until the pilot is extended, the rules only apply to: 
  • Landlords in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
  • All adults aged 18 and over living at the property.
  • New tenancy agreements starting on or after 1 December 2014.
The Home Office has produced a Code of Practice for Landlords containing guidance for landlords and this explains:
  • If a property is affected.
  • If any exemptions apply (some types of property and agreements are excluded).
  • How to carry out a “right to rent” check.
  • What documents individuals can show to a landlord as evidence of their “right to rent”.
  • When and how to request a “right to rent” check from the Home Office.
Where accommodation is let to anyone with a time-limited right to rent, the landlord should conduct follow-up checks as set out in the Code. Landlords need to keep records of all checks they make.
What to do next? 
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Web: www.pi-propertyinsurance.co.uk

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