Immigration problems for Landlords?

Landlords of residential premises required to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and other occupiers to ascertain the individuals’ right to rent in the UK

In January 2016 the Government passed The Immigration Act 2014 (Commencement Order No 6), which introduces a requirement on private landlords to make right to rent checks of prospective tenants aged 18 and over before the start of any new tenancy entered into on or after 1 February 2016. The requirement applies to all tenants whether or not they are not named on the tenancy, even if there is no written tenancy or tenancy agreement. If landlords fail to comply, they may be fined up to £3,000. Landlords must carry out the checks in a non-discriminatory manner and need to avoid contravening the Equality Act 2010.

The government has issued detailed guidance on the documents that landlords can accept as evidence of the right to rent and landlords are required to keep copies of these documents. If tenants are not in a position to supply these documents, the landlord must request verification of the right to rent from the Home Office.

Landlords of residential properties must also make sure that someone’s right to rent does not lapse once the tenancy agreement has been granted. It does not apply to existing tenancies nor to a renewal after 1 February 2016 of a tenancy agreement granted before this date, provided that the renewal is made between the same parties and there has been no break in the tenant’s occupation.

Landlords are able to pass on this responsibility for the checks to their agents provided that

(a) the agent is acting in the course of business and

(b) the landlord and agent agreed in writing that the agent is to take responsibility for carrying out the right to rent checks on behalf of the landlord.

At the moment, there is no legal obligation for a Landlord in Wales to check the immigration status of prospective tenants as the legislation has yet to be implemented in Wales.

There are exclusions to this requirement which includes but is not limited to student accommodation, accommodation from or involving local authorities, hostels, refuges’ and social housing.

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