Februar 2016 – From tomorrow, private landlords are required to conduct immigration status checks on their tenants.
The Home Office has published a Code of Practice, which lists in detail the landlord’s new obligations.
Failing to comply could result in financial penalties of up to £3000 per tenant.
Landlords who fail to undertake the compulsory immigration checks, or who rent a property to a person whose immigration status does not confer them the “right to rent” run the risk of being fined.
The new rules provide that the immigration status checks must be carried out before the landlord enters into the residential tenancy agreement with any adult who is to occupy the premises as their only or main home.
To whom do the checks apply?
Landlords (or their agents) must check the status of all adults, who intend to live in the property, as opposed to only the individuals listed on the lease.
The checks apply to all residential tenancies, including leases and licences.
Occupiers subletting must also undertake the checks.
The regulations go as far as including every day Joe Blogs wishing to rent his spare room to a lodger.
There are some exceptions, such as those applicable to accommodation involving Local Authorities, social housing, care homes, hospitals, hospices, hostels, refuges, mobile homes, student accommodation and long leases.
The checks do not apply to tenants under the age of 18 either
and where tenants turn 18 during the course of the tenancy
additional follow up checks are not required.
Only specific documents to demonstrate the ‘right to rent’ are acceptable. Copies of the said documents must be kept.
Fortunately the new requirements will not apply retrospectively (ie it will not apply for renewal of lease after the implementation of the new rules)
The new requirement will not apply to a property rented temporarily, e.g. holiday accommodation – having said that if the property is to be rented for 3/4 months the Home Office is likely to expect the checks to have been carried out.
Who has the ‘Righ to Rent’?
As part of the checks the landlord must be satisfied that each person living in the property is one of the following:
– a British National;
– a National of a country within the European Economic Area;
– a Swiss national; or
– some other national with the Right to Rent.
An individual with “a right to rent” will normally be someone who holds an official permission to be in the UK, for instance someone with permission to work or someone with permanent residence/ indefinite leave to remain or someone with leave to remain as the dependant / spouse of an EEA national etc.
UK immigration law is complex. There are a very large number of immigration status and documents, which confirm the said status and by extension the right to rent of any given individual.
The rules provide that if a landlord appoints a letting agent, the agent in question can, by written agreement with the landlord, be responsible for carrying out the checks.
The agreement between the landlord and agent must confirm the timescale within which the checks must be carried out and reported to the landlord.
If the agent informs the landlord that there is no right to rent and a tenancy agreement is still entered into, the landlord will be liable.
In all other cases the agent will be liable.
The Home Office have set up a landlord’s helpline and an online service, which will assist the landlords to check a prospective tenant’s right to rent in the UK. When using the system, they should receive a response within two working days.
In today’s rental market, landlords may not be in a position to wait this period of time to have their properties let.
We have therefore set up a “an express checking service” to meet the needs of landlords across London. Alternatively we have put together a 3 stage guideline which we hope will be helpful to those going in on their own. Finally we offer a bespoke training session for letting professionals starting at £250 per session.
Entry Clearance Services Ltd is a leading specialist immigration law advisory firm, formed in 2007, with extensive experience of advising on all aspects of UK immigration law. Please contact us for further information.