The Immigration Act 2014 places an obligation on private sector landlords to carry out immigration checks (right to rent) on new tenancies/tenants starting on or after 1 February 2016.
The right to rent checks are being implemented as part of the Government’s attempt to cut down on illegal migration.
A pilot scheme ran in five West Midlands local authorities from 1 December 2014 and following this it is being rolled out across the UK from 1 February 2016.
The right to rent requires landlords, letting agents and householders to check the immigration or identification documents of tenants to verify their immigration status before renting to them. Private sector landlords who allow tenants without a right to rent to occupy their property will be liable for a civil penalty of up to £3,000 per tenant.
All adults aged 18 or overusing the property as their only or main home should be checked. This applies even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement, if someone else pays the rent and regardless of whether the tenancy is written, verbal or implied. Children do not need to be checked, but you should be certain they are under 18 years.
A landlord, agent or householder should obtain and check adults’ original acceptable documents before allowing them to live in the property. You should then make a dated paper copy or electronic record of the document and retain it securely for the duration of the tenancy and for 12 months after the tenancy ends. The copies should then be securely disposed of.
There are two lists of documents which are acceptable as proof of someone’s right to rent. List ‘A’ contains documents which provide evidence the holder has the right to rent indefinitely. List ‘B’ contains documents which provide evidence the holder has the right to rent for a limited period of time. If a person cannot show any of the acceptable documents but claims to have an outstanding immigration application or appeal with the Home Office, or claims their documents are with the Home Office, then you can request that the Home Office carry out a right to rent check by calling the landlords helpline on 0300 069 9799.
If your checks indicate that a person no longer has the right to rent, you should report them to the Home Office to prevent a civil penalty from being incurred.
You are not expected to be an immigration expert, but you are expected to take all reasonable steps to check the validity of the documents presented to you. You would not be penalised if you have taken all reasonable steps.
The following documents can be found at GOV.UK. These can offer further information and guidance regarding this new requirement and landlord obligations: