Landlords should be wary of the new immigration rules
When will the rules apply?
The Home Office has announced that it will be piloting the new scheme in Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton with effect from today. The pilot scheme will remain in effect for some months before implementation is rolled out nationally some time in 2015.
What is the effect of the Act for landlords?
A landlord will not be permitted to let residential property to a person who is not:
- a British Citizen
- an EEA State National or Swiss National, or
- they require leave to enter or remain in the UK and do not have it, or they have left, but it is subject to conditions that prevent them from occupying the property.
The main aim of the Act is to make it more difficult for illegal immigrants to disregard immigration rules. It is not intended that landlords must act as immigration officers, but a landlord must be cautious not to rent their properties to people who have no rights to be in the UK.
It is important to note that these changes only apply to new tenancies and checks will not have to be carried out by landlords retrospectively.
How it works before the tenancy begins
A landlord must check a prospective tenant’s documentation to establish whether they have a right to be in the UK. Information on how to carry out the right checks on a tenant can be found at www.gov.uk. If the landlord is not satisfied the person has a legal right to be in the UK there is no obligation on the landlord to report the person to the Home Office, however, he should not let the property to that person.
What landlords need to do after the tenancy begins
Only if the tenant is a foreign national with an immigration time limit on their stay will the landlord need to make a further check either annually, or, when the person’s stay is due to expire. If the tenant is unable to show they have permanent leave to stay at the next check, the landlord must report this to the Home Office. The landlord will not be penalised provided they report it to the Home Office promptly.