Right to Rent immigration checks launching on 1 December

28 Nov 2014

From 1 December, landlords in the West Midlands area will be required to carry out new checks on their tenants to ensure they have the right to live in the UK.

What are these checks?

As part of the Immigration Act, private landlords will now need to check that someone has the right to live in the UK before letting a property to them. These measures will come into force from 1 December and will apply to landlords with properties in Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

What about existing tenants?

The checks will only apply to new tenancies from the date of implementation. This means that although landlords must be vigilant when setting up new tenancies, they are not required to check the immigration status of existing tenants.

How are these checks carried out?

The right to rent checks are simple to complete. A British or European national can satisfy the check, for example, by showing a passport, or a full birth certificate and driving licence. Migrants who are living in the UK legally can pass the checks by providing a biometric residence permit. Landlords will need to photocopy these documents as evidence that the check has been carried out and retain these copies for a year after the tenancy ends.

What are a landlord’s obligations to obtain and validate documents?

  • Obtain – Landlords must obtain original versions of one or more acceptable documents
  • Check – Landlords must check the document’s validity in the presence of the holder
  • Copy – Landlords must make and retain a clear copy, and record the date the check was made

Are there any exemptions?

There are a number of exemptions from these new requirements which are:

  • Any accommodation provided by a local authority or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive where they are under a statutory duty to do so
  • Hostels and refuges
  • Tied accommodation (provided by an employer)
  • Halls of residence for students. This includes any accommodation provided for students directly by a higher educational institution, or tenancy agreements in private residential accommodation where a higher educational institute has nominated a student for accommodation

What are the penalties?

Landlords will face a civil penalty if they are found to be letting property to people who are here illegally. A sliding scale of penalties will mean heavier fines for those who persistently rent to illegal migrants or rent to multiple illegal migrants, with fines reaching £3,000.

However, landlords and agents will not be penalised if they are misled by a skilful forgery, provided they record that they have performed the necessary checks. The purpose of these penalties is to crack down on rogue landlords, not to penalise reputable landlords.

Patrick Taylor

Written by: Patrick Taylor an Endsleigh colleague. 

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New 'Right to rent' checks come into force in December

29 Oct 2014

From 1 December, landlords in the West Midlands area will be required to carry out new checks on their tenants to ensure they have the right to live in the UK.