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Immigration checks on new tenants – another burden on Landlords or a way to beat illegal immigration?

Monday, 1 December 2014

From today private landlords in the West Midlands will be required to check that their prospective tenants are entitled to reside in the UK before renting a property to them under new rules which have come into force with the passing of the Immigration Act 2014.

The pilot scheme will run until Spring 2015 when the Government will consider whether it has been a success but the intention is that it will then roll out the new requirements throughout the country during the course of 2015.

These requirements are all part of Government plans to tackle illegal immigration; Government statistics show that 85% of migrants who have been in the UK for less than a year are residing in private rented sector properties.

Landlords ought to be able to check their prospective tenants identity simply and quickly but there are already suggestions that this is the Governments way of passing the buck and getting someone else to do a job it should be doing and another burden on landlords who already have to comply statutory requirements relating to tenancy deposits.

The Government is providing support with an easy to use Right to Rent Tool and the promise that any queries on documents will be dealt with in no more than two working days.

The reality of these new rules is that they should stop rogue landlords from renting to illegal immigrants in overcrowded and substandard accommodation with the threat of a £3000 penalty for failure to check documentation.

Landlords are not required to undertake these checks personally and can pass the responsibility on to their letting agent however with a substantial penalty for a failure to comply with the requirements Landlords will probably want to ensure that they check the documents themselves.

There are other concerns in the industry that it will mean landlords will only rent to those who are UK born and have clear citizenship, the Government has made clear that discrimination will not be tolerated and checks must be undertaken on all prospective tenants regardless of race and colour in order to ensure that they are being consistent and transparent and non discriminatory.

We await the results of the pilot scheme with interest and hope to be able to report on the proposed roll out throughout the UK in our Spring Newsletter.

For any queries on tenancy issues please contact Jane Canham on 020 7611 5817 or jcanham@rollingsons.co.uk.

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