From 1 February 2016 all landlords in England and Wales are required by law to check the immigration status of their tenants. Landlords have to ensure that their tenants or lodgers are legally allowed to be in the UK. They cannot let to people who do not have the right to be in the UK.
The new scheme applies to tenants aged 18 and over and even in circumstances where:
- They are not named on the tenancy agreement
- There’s no tenancy agreement in place
- The tenancy agreement isn’t in writing
Who is legally responsible to carry out these checks?
- a landlord letting private rented accommodation, or
- a landlord or occupier allowing a lodger to live in a property, or
- a tenant or occupier sub-letting a property, or
- an agent appointed in writing by a landlord to take responsibility for complying with the Scheme
What checks will the Landlord need to carry out?
The Landlord will need to confirm which adults will be living in the property. Landlords will now be under a duty to check the original documents that allow the tenant to legally live in the UK. They will need to make copies of the tenant’s documents (passport, visa/ biometric permit) and record the date the check was made. Copies of all documents have to be retained whilst the tenancy is in force and for one year after.
What if the tenant’s original documents are with the Home Office?
The Landlord will need to use the ‘landlord’s checking service’ (https://www.gov.uk/landlord-immigration-check) to find out the tenants immigration status. The home office will respond within 48 hours confirming if they have the tenant’s documents or if there is an outstanding appeal or case. There are certain circumstances which allow individuals to legally reside in the UK after the expiry of their visa so long as they have a pending case with the Home Office that was submitted prior to their existing visa expiring.
What if the Landlord has instructed a managing agent?
The Landlords will not be required to carry out these checks. The responsibility will be passed to the managing agents. The Landlord needs to have this agreement in writing.
Are there any consequences of not carrying out checks?
Landlords who fail to comply with the new scheme could face a maximum penalty of a £3,000.00 fine. A criminal offence with a maximum sentence of 5 years will be introduced when the current immigration bill becomes law. The Landlord will need to show evidence that they made the right to rent checks.
The scheme has been subject to a lot of controversy. However the Government have backed the introduction of this scheme in an attempt to dissuade migrants from overstaying their visas.
For more information on the new law please contact our Immigration team by email at Adeeb.Chowdhry@dwfmbeckman.com or call 0207 408 8845.