Landlords appointed to role of unpaid immigration officers

Wednesday 14th October 2015 08:06 EDT

Last year, the Immigration Act 2014 introduced regulations which prohibit landlords from authorising adults to occupy premises under a residential tenancy agreement if their immigration status disqualifies them from doing so. There was a pilot study within certain areas in the north and the law will now be rolled out country wide.
Landlords need to get their affairs in order for any new tenants that are taken on after the law came into effect.
Properties affected
The regulations affect lodgers, those on short term assured tenancies or property that is sublet within the landlord’s property.
• The regulations exclude the following:
• under 18s
• long leases
• care homes
• student accommodation
Documents to check (originals only)
• passports, biometric cards, residence cards
• British citizens, EU citizens and those who have indefinite leave will not need to have further checks done.
• There will be a need to repeat the check when the person’s leave is due to expire.
When to carry out checks
• Before the tenancy begins and no earlier than 28 days before the start of the tenancy. The landlords should carry out the check themselves but can delegate this to an agent providing there is a clear written contract between the landlord and agent.
Retention of documents
Copies of documents must be made and kept for at least 12 months after the tenancy expires.
Action that needs to be taken
• The Home Office are establishing a Landlords Checking Service where enquiries can be made. If this service reports that a person has a right to rent, this will provide a defence against any changes that occur that the landlord is unaware of.
• If the tenant no longer has a right to rent, the landlord is required to report this to the Home Office  as soon as is “reasonably practicable” but thereafter under no obligation to evict the tenant. However there are regulations that have been put into the latest Immigration Bill which are designed to make it easier for the landlord to evict a tenant.
Lodgers in private households will receive fines of £80 or £500 if there has been a breach before in a 3 year period.
Occupiers of rented accommodation will receive fines of £1000 or £3000 if there has been a breach in 3 years.
Avoiding discrimination
A landlord cannot discriminate by selecting only British and EU citizens or avoiding renting to those who only have a limited right to rent. There is a Code of Practice issued which gives some guidance on this issue.

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