Date Published 29 October 2014
The first phase of the 'Right to Rent' scheme will be introduced on 1st December 2014 in the West Midlands and the Black Country and applies to private landlords who take in new tenants and lodgers or sub-let the property after that date.
The Home Office announced that fines of up to £3,000 will be charged if they fail to check on the immigration status of their new tenants. The Home Office has set up a landlords' helpline on 0300 069 9799.
In most cases, the landlord will simply need to check the tenant's passport or biometric residents permit. In a case where the tenant has an ongoing Home Office application and therefore no document, the landlord can use an online form to make a check. This should take no more than 2 working days to get a yes or no response.
Copies of the documentation provided by the tenant will need to be taken as evidence that checks have been carried out and retained for one year after the tenancy ends. Children under 18 will not need to be checked.
Student accommodation where tenants have been nominated directly by colleges, local authority housing, hostels and refuges will be exempted from the checks either because it would duplicate existing immigration checks or could undermine protection of vulnerable groups.
The Residential Landlords Association has strongly opposed the introduction of the checks, arguing that the UK Border Agency should be carrying them out and pointing out that most private landlords are individuals with only one or two properties.
The measure is part of a package in the 2014 Immigration Act, which also introduces powers to revoke the driving licences of illegal migrants, places a stronger duty on registrars to report sham marriages and streamlines the recovery of fines levied on companies for employing illegal migrants.
Following an evaluation of the implementation in the West Midlands next spring, the Home Office expects to continue with the phased introduction of checks across the UK next year.