The law for Landlords and Letting Agents is hard to keep up with at the moment. The new obligation coming law on 1st February 2016 is ‘Right to Rent’. Under the provisions of the Immigration Act 2014, the person responsible for the checks will be liable to receive a civil penalty where they do not fulfill their obligations under the Act. The Immigration Act 2014 confirms the level of fines payable will be up to a maximum of £3,000 per tenant. It goes further, the Immigration Bill 2015/2016 proposes the person responsible for carrying out the checks will be criminally liable if the right to rent provisions are not followed and if convicted will face a custodial sentence of imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or fine.
Is the Government really holding Landlords liable for immigration checks? .. Absolutely. Seven Civil Penalty Notices have already been issued from £80 to £2,000 and twenty one notices stating they maybe liable. If the Immigration Bill 2015 goes through then Landlords will be criminally liable.
In order to avoid this, Landlords need to rent out properties ensuring they are not disqualified from renting due to their immigration status. The Government has produced a Code of Practice which sets out the steps that a Landlord must take. The steps that must be followed, no more than 28 days before a tenancy is due to begin are:
a) Establish who will be living at the property as their main home
b) Obtain original versions of one or more acceptable documents to establish a Right to Rent for each adult who will be living at the property.
c) Check the documents in the presence of the holder of the documents. The responsible person must check date of births, photographs are consistent with occupier, that the documents confirm a Right to Rent and expiry dates have not passed and documents appear genuine.
d) Make copies of the Passports and other documents and retain them with a record of the date when copies were taken. These need to be retained even after tenancy has ended.
There will be a need to carry out follow up checks to establish a time-limited right to rent, e/g/ Visa will expire.
Can Landlords and Letting agents avoid above and just rent to British or EU citizens? No, this would be in breach of discrimination laws and could face a discrimination suit which would have uncapped damages.
So Letting Agents / Border Control it is. I’m going to get myself a booth.
Posted: 10th February 2016